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Overnight on 27 January Egypt, a country with a population of nearly 80 million people, disappeared off the digital map. In an unprecedented move the government cut off all access to the internet ahead of fresh protests. Some mobile phone companies were also told to suspend services.
Egypt is now back online, but in the technology blackout the protestors had to think on their feet and revert to new (or rather old) ways of communicating.
Members of Telecomix News Agency, which covers net neutrality and censorship within the EU, searched Google for Egyptian fax machine numbers. Online newspaper The Huffington Post says that they began sending out details about how to communicate, including instructions for dial-up internet and amateur radio.
Some people reverted back to the early days of the Internet by accessing it via phone networks. Bloggers posted instructions on how to do this, along with numbers that still worked within Egypt. Around the world supporters of the protests set up free dial-up networks for protestors to use.
Protestors used amateur, shortwave and pirate radio to broadcast messages and news to friends and family outside of Egypt. A group run by Telecomix called 'We Rebuild' monitored some designated wavebands and reported receiving some transmissions from within the country.
According to Accessnow.org - a site campaigning against Internet censorship - communication between protestors within the country has included the distribution of photocopied pamphlets, explaining preparations for the demonstrations.
Google teamed up with Twitter and SayNow to create ‘Speak to Tweet’; a service which allows anyone to tweet by calling one of three international numbers and leaving a voicemail for the rest of the world. You can hear the tweets at http://twitter.com/speak2tweet