Egypt Returns to the Internet Following Five Days of Shutdown

Egyptian Internet services were restored after protests by demonstrators demanding the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak had led to five days of closure.

Internet service providers, including units of Vodafone Group Plc, “returned to the Internet,” at 11:29 a.m. in Cairo, Web security firm Renesys said today in a blog post. Internet traffic volumes to Google Inc.’s search engine from Egypt were also increasing, according to the company’s transparency report.

Egyptian authorities on Jan. 28 ordered connections to the Internet to be shut down and mobile-phone services to be suspended after demonstrators took to the streets. President Mubarak, 82, said last night he will stand down later this year.

Vodafone said today it reinstated Internet data services in the country, allowing access to all websites. The company is also “actively lobbying to reactivate SMS services as quickly as possible,” spokesman Ben Padovan said today via phone.

Egypt’s state-run news agency said today that the country has not restored Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry smartphone service.

RIM said on January 27 that is has not implemented any changes that would affect service in Egypt. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and India all threatened to shut down BlackBerry service last year over concerns that the devices might be used to foment social unrest or coordinate terrorist attacks.

Mobile-phone voice services, run by local units of Vodafone and France Telecom SA, were restored on Jan. 29.

Egyptians had been reverting to old-fashioned dial-up connections using a phone line to skirt the closure of the Internet. Google has also offered a way for people to send Twitter messages by leaving a voicemail.

Egypt has one of the most advanced telecommunications markets in the Middle East and Africa. About 95 percent of Egyptians, or 74.9 million subscribers, are clients of a mobile phone network, according to analysts at Cairo-based AlembicHC.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Browning in London jbrowning9@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vidya Root at vroot@bloomberg.net.

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