Lebanon Won’t Have Internet Tomorrow?

Picture via Maya Zankoul

Picture via Maya Zankoul

Isn’t this the best news to wake up to?

According to Al Akhbar, Lebanon has failed to pay its dues to the IMEWE internet cable consortium and will be cut off from the country’s main internet supply tomorrow, effectively slashing 60% of our internet capacity. We owe the consortium around $1.9 million. If that amount is not paid by November 3rd, tomorrow, Lebanon will also lose its share of the IMEWE cable which is worth around $60 million.

Given our internet state, slashing 60% off of it means we are rendered with a connection that is barely usable and certainly not enough to sustain the country. Lebanon also has a redundant system which covers 30% of current capacity. Back in July 2012, Lebanon had an outage in the IMEWE cable which was due to technical reasons. We fell back on that failover system and the only functional internet we were able to access was that on our mobile phones.

Who’s to blame for this? Everyone I guess. The Ministry of Telecom is the one in charge of the dealings with the consortium as Ogero has been off the project since 2012. Ogero has notified the ministry back in May about the situation but the governmental situation, or lack thereof, prevented anyone from approaching the issue.

Isn’t it enough that we barely have usable internet in the first place that we now might have to deal with that internet becoming non-existent if not unavailable? Weren’t the many outages of IMEWE a wake-up call to have a decent enough backup system just in case? And why has this news taken so much time in actually becoming known, just one day before the deadline?

 

The joke currently goes: hit the beach tomorrow and try to get Wi-Fi from Cyprus. Or perhaps we should simply let Qatar handle this, as usual, and then rebrand our IMEWE share to “Shoukran Qatar?”

Bass enno men l aseis ye3ne, la shou l internet? 

Update: According to MTV, the ministry has started the paperwork to pay the IMEWE consortium and keep our connection intact.

So a few questions:
1) Why wait till the absolute last minute and only because the news got this much traction?
2) Is $2 million such a huge amount that we had to reach this pathetic point?

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Is All of Lebanon’s Internet Resting on the IMEWE Cable?

Two whole-country blackouts in one week. Both lasted for a few hours during which the entirety of Lebanon was disconnected from the grid, adding to its disconnections in electricity and water – because we are not allowed to have a 24/7 sector that runs smoothly in the country.

It could be that we decided to feel compassion to the people of Virginia in the US, bracing themselves through massive storms. We can’t let them be the only people on the globe who are suffering through internet disconnections?

Let’s hope the Americans can be appreciative.

But sarcasm aside, how come all of Lebanon’s internet rests on the state of one cable: IMEWE, the one we got connected to not long ago?

Don’t we have other cables, such as Cadmus, that also connect Lebanon to the grid? Where are those cables when something happens to IMEWE?

Don’t we have a backup plan in case anything happens to IMEWE? Can’t we revert to the old bandwidth that was enough to sustain connectivity although not speed (dismal as the current one may be) in case something happens to this cable?

And regarding IMEWE, how come a cable that cost millions upon millions of dollars is having this many problems? Two blackouts this week alone with the total number of blackouts increasing the further you go back in your observation. And why are the problems only centered in Lebanon? Alexandria, for instance, another location that gets bandwidth from the cable is not suffering from the blackouts we are having.

They want to let you think Lebanese internet has gotten better. But what good is an extra Mbps in speed when you can’t even use it for hours and hours? What good is the internet that comes from a cable that’s looking to be more fragile than an osteoporotic woman’s bones?

With this many recurrent problems with the IMEWE cable, perhaps the ministry of telecommunications should look into the main problem leading to the blackouts and not patch it up in a few hours so it happens again a few days later.

In all my years as an internet user, all of which have been in Lebanon, there has never been as many internet blackouts as we’ve had since our internet got “better.”