photo by Suriya Thonawanik
Tensions in Thailand are high as a week of anti-government protests have turned violent and continue unabated. However, in an apparent reversal of a common theme with anti-government protests in recent years, multiple news sources have reported that protestors temporarily cut off a large portion of Internet service to their country. For example, The New York Times reported yesterday that “protesters also raided a state-owned telecommunications office, temporarily cutting Internet service to thousands of people on Saturday.”
CAT Telecom Outage
|We can confirm that state-owned Thai telecom Communications Authority of Thailand (AS4651), commonly referred to as CAT Telecom, was completely offline for over three hours on Saturday during the government’s crackdown on the protestors. In a series of three outages, CAT stopped providing Internet transit to 204 routes at 8:30 UTC, 207 routes at 8:48 UTC and finally lost service to 906 routes at 8:52 UTC. In total, the outages left Thailand with 32% of its Internet paths down until restoration occurred at 12:11 UTC.|
|With CAT’s routes down, all Internet communication to and through them came to a halt. This is illustrated by our latency measurements, shown on the right. However, although CAT was unavailable for this period of time, alternative international gateways JasTel, TOT and True Internet were either unaffected or experienced surges in traffic as multi-homed customers shifted traffic away from CAT.|
|During the CAT outage, we observed a large amount of traffic re-routed to True Internet (AS38082) pictured to the right. CAT’s rival, state-owned telecom TOT (AS38040) also experienced an increased in traffic when Internet Thailand shifted traffic away from CAT pictured directly below. The unavailability of CAT transit had negligible impact on the service of private operator JasTel (AS45629), pictured below right.|
|Due to Internet transit diversity among corporations in Thailand, we can see that many enterprises were able to ride out the outage by immediately shifting transit to an alternative provider. For example, the Siam Commercial Bank (AS45806) was able to use service from True Internet during the CAT Telecom outage as illustrated on the right. The image below illustrates how Siam Commercial Bank connects to the global Internet. Note the secondary connectivity available through True Internet.|
If it is true that the anti-government protestors caused the 3-hour CAT Telecom outage on Saturday, this development raises the question: will national telecommunications infrastructure become a high-priority target for protestors?
Improvements in Internet diversity are politically neutral — they help keep the Internet connected, regardless of who’s trying to shut off the Internet, or for what purpose. From the perspective of Thailand’s financial sector and others that rely on the Internet, this is a good thing.