Posts tagged with “internet”

Thu 29 Nov

Syrian Internet Cut Off

Well, it's happened again: a country's been cut off the Internet. This time it's Syria.

There's good coverage of the technical details of this outage on the Renesys and CloudFlare blogs. The short version is that all Internet traffic into and out of Syria flows through a single, government-owned ISP, the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (AS29386). This ISP withdrew their BGP routes from their providers, disabling access for all Syrian IP's (since every ISP in Syria relies on AS29386 for their international connectivity). This is effectively the same network structure that exists in Iran, and it makes it trivial to shut off an entire nation's Internet access: all traffic flows through a single point, and the government controls that point.

My TIER colleague Yahel Ben-David brought up the great point a couple months ago that it's kind of odd that method of choice for country-scale Internet blackouts seems to be withdrawing BGP routes, as opposed to just unplugging cables or powering off routers. The Syrian government tried to blame a cable cut for this blackout, but it's pretty hard to say all your BGP routes just "accidentally" got withdrawn. Withdrawing a BGP route is literally broadcast publicly around the world, so it's not particularly subtle either. I don't have a good explanation of why this is done: maybe the engineers tasked with implementing the blackout are just familiar with BGP? Maybe they don't want to disrupt their consecutive days of uptime numbers? If you're a network engineer who's implemented a national Internet blackout and has the answer, get in touch.

Wed 14 Dec

The world gets cloudier: AWS goes to Sao Pablo

Amazon launched the Sao Paulo region today for their AWS cloud services. I'm glad to see cloud providers branching out to new markets beyond the US and Europe. Apparently, both South American companies and international companies looking to serve the South American market have been clamoring for such a move from Amazon.

While this will be great for the tech scene there, I'm interested to know how this new infrastructure will benefit the broader community of South American Internet users, and in particular how this will impact the cost of international bandwidth in South America. Historically, international bandwidth costs have been a key limitation for the proliferation of affordable Internet access throughout the developing world. This makes sense: running international fiber is expensive, and it often requires a consortium of telco's working together to make it happen (e.g., EASSy). The major cloud providers, on the other hand, have plenty of capital to finance submarine cable construction. Heck, they could build their own cable infrastructure if they wanted to: I'm sure Google and Amazon have the expertise to manage it well, too. In any case, I'm hopeful that we'll see similar cloud infrastructure built in other traditionally underserved areas, such as Africa and South Asia, in the near future.

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