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Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt Turns to Sole Provider, Dial-Up for Internet Access | News & Opinion |

January 31, 2011 01.12pm EST

Egypt Turns to Sole Provider, Dial-Up for Internet Access

Internet and SMS access in Egypt remained spotty or non-existent Monday. Though one provider appears to be live, those without access to this ISP are reportedly turning to more old-school options – from dial-up Internet to paper leaflets.

Internet monitoring firm Renesys said Friday that the Noor Group was still live in Egypt, with inbound transit from Telecom Italia. Renesys observed at the time in a blog post that the Egyptian Stock Exchange was live at a Noor address, and speculated that the Egyptian government allowed the ISP to remain live so that the country's markets could open this week. Reuters said Monday, however, that the exchange will remain closed Tuesday for the third day in a row.

French newspaper Le Monde, however, pointed out that Noor provides services to large, multi-national companies like Coca-Cola, Canon, Ernst & Young, Microsoft, FedEx, and Exxon Mobil.

"Because of this, Noor is likely considered to be an important economic asset and will probably continue operating throughout this crisis," News Grange wrote Sunday. "We have to wonder, though, why the company wasn't able to keep these business services up and running and cut its regular subscribers off at the same time."

Noor serves about 8 percent of the Egyptian population, Le Monde said. On its Web site, Noor said it serves 27 major governorates throughout Egypt and provides multiple international gateway options through Europe and the United States.

For those without access to Noor, however, the French Data Network (FDN) is providing those with landlines access to dial-up networks.

"Because this is definitely [an] open attack from a state against [the] Internet, FDN has decided to open a small window on the network by giving access to anyone interested a modem access account," FDN said in a statement on its Web site.

The service will work for anyone with an analog land line that is capable of calling France, FDN said. The phone number and password is available on its blog.

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