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June 3, 2011 Comments (15) Views: 16426 Internet, Politics

Syrian Internet Shutdown

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

Starting at 3:35 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 Over the course of roughly half an hour, the routes to 40 of 59 networks were withdrawn from the global routing table.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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15 Responses to Syrian Internet Shutdown

  1. Anas says:

    Correction: Syriatel is not state owned. It’s ownded by Rami Makhlouf who’s the president’s cousin but doesn’t hold any official office in the Syrian Government.
    I believe the main internet provider in Syria was STE (Syrian Telecom Establishment) that is government owned.

  2. Mike says:

    Can you explain what the map is showing? I can’t seem to understand it.
    Right, sorry. Explained above.

  3. Helen says:

    Yes, internet backbone is state-owned by STE not Syriatel. Syriatel is one of two private sector mobile operators with 3G networks (and Makhlouf is a shareholder in Syriatel). What about MTN’s 3G – any idea if it is working?

  4. BLOG: UN Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right

    Received: from unknown (HELO by with SMTP id (envelopefrom ); Fri, 03 Jun …

  5. Saria Abu Harb says:

    what about SCS-Net It’s syrian computer socity network. and it’s provide the service via owned network

  6. Status says:

    Syria goes dark

    Oops, I forgot about Syria. Well, it looks like they are the first to go. Hope all you Syrian folks had time to prepare.
    The Renesys post (second link above) also posits an interesting social conclusion: that based on the Libyan and Egyptian experience

  7. Jimmy says:

    Does anyone knows when the internet service in syria resume? does it take a week or a month?

  8. Tim says:

    so the argument is who owns SyriaTel, shouldn’t be why all ISPs coordinated to cut-off internet

  9. Aboud says:

    Internet came back to Syria at about 08:20 local time. Even the Syrian Computer Society lines were out.

  10. Free Syrian says:

    It just came back..we’ve been remained without internet for 27 hours..I guess they will un-plug it only in Fridays “the major day of demonstrations to keep our voices down” and maybe when all our days become a “Fridays” they will cut it until the regime falls

  11. Ahamd says:

    Please clarify the issue of Syria Tel. SyriaTel is not state owned. but the internet is been provided by the Syrian STE.

  12. Sgt. Rummy says:

    I can open all of your links but not Damascus City homepage. I’m connected through T-Online in Germany (Deutsche Telekom)

  13. douglasawh says:

    douglasawh’s status on Saturday, 04-Jun-11 13:57:23 UTC

    one way guaranteed to make people happy and servile, cut off their Internet!

  14. Will Jones says:

    I think its worth pointing out that Friday, is of course Friday Prayers for the Muslim population in Syria. I think the friday link says a lot for the concern the syria goverment has on the implications of communities getting together uniting and spreading the word after and during Friday prayers.
    Another worrying episode.

  15. Mazen says:

    The Internet service was back to normal as from the morning of Saturday 4th of June … All ISP’s are reachable including 3G …

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