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Syrian Internet Shutdown

(Updates on the restoration of Syria’s internet at the bottom of this page. –jim)

Starting at 03:35 UTC today (6:35am local time), approximately two-thirds of all Syrian networks became unreachable from the global Internet. Over the course of roughly half an hour, the routes to 40 of 59 networks were withdrawn from the global routing table.
SY-menamap.png This image shows the current state (green: reachable, red: unreachable) of each network prefix in the Middle East this morning, visualized as a packed Hilbert-curve representation. The size of the colored area is proportional to each country’s Internet presence, so you can see that Syria’s Internet (red block near the top center) is a little smaller than that of Kuwait.

The Internet in Syria basically depends on one domestic provider, state-owned Syrian Telecom Establishment (AS29256 and AS29386). They buy most of their Internet transit from Turk Telekom and Deutsche Telekom, with some contribution from PCCW, Tata, and Telecom Italia. Connectivity has historically come in over submarine cable from Cyprus; activation of new terrestrial fiber connections to Turkey have been delayed by this year’s political unrest.

The network prefixes that remain reachable include those belonging to the Syrian government, although many government websites are slow to respond or down. The Oil Ministry is up, for example, and Syrian Telecom’s official page, but the Ministry of Education is down, as is the Damascus city government page, and the Syrian Customs website.

The networks that are not reachable include, substantially, all of the prefixes reserved for SyriaTel’s 3G mobile data networks, and smaller downstream ISPs including Sawa, INET, and Runnet.

We’ll update when we have more information. We don’t know yet how the outage was coordinated, or what specific regions or cities may be affected more than others. News is filtering out of Syria very slowly. If Egypt and Libya’s Internet outages are any guide, one might conclude that events on the street in Syria are reaching a tipping point.

Edit: clarified that Syrian Telecom Establishment is the state-owned Internet service provider, as distinguished from SyriaTel, the mobile provider that is “not quite” government-owned.

Update (Saturday 4 June 2011):

The Syrian Internet is back up. Seven of the 40 networks returned around 19:00 UTC (22:00 local time Friday night). The rest came back shortly after 04:00 UTC (07:00 local time Saturday morning). With connectivity restored, the Google Transparency Report confirms that traffic has resumed, at levels that look provisionally similar to those before the blackout. Will Friday Internet blackouts become a regular feature of the Syrian protests?

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Whois: Jim Cowie

Jim Cowie was the Chief Scientist at Dyn. Previously, Jim was the founder and CTO of Renesys, the Internet Intelligence Authority, which Dyn acquired in 2014.

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