Lebanon experiences nationwide Internet blackout

A man works on his computer at a cafe in Hamra, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon plunged into a 3-hour Internet blackout Monday as DSL, 3G and blackberry connections stopped working across the country around 7 p.m.

Chairman of IDM, a leading internet service provider, told The Daily Star the blackout happened after IMEWE, a submarine fiber optic cable linking Lebanon and Cyprus, malfunctioned.

Talal Assaf, an advisor to the Telecoms Officer, said the breakdown affected a section of the cable near Marseille, France.

It was not immediately clear whether other countries were affected by the malfunction.

It is not the first time Lebanon has experience an internet blackout.

About a year ago, the IMEWE cable broke down, affecting net services throughout the country.

In February 2012, the Telecommunications Ministry made a preliminary agreement with Cyprus over a new submarine cable dubbed EUROPA.

In addition to boosting Internet connection speeds and capacities, the cable will serve as a back-up cable, preventing a complete blackout when IMEWE fails.

But the Lebanese government has yet to give the green light to the $10 million project, which will also lower costs for Internet providers and subscribers, the ministry has said.

Last February, officials told The Daily Star that upgrades on the IMEWE cable are due to conclude this summer.

The upgrade works, the ministry said, aim at eliminating Internet congestion that are still holding back net connection speeds across the country.

In October 2011, Lebanon started applying a new Internet package that included an 80 percent reduction on end-user ADSL prices.

The government had promised Internet speeds would increase by up to eight times, putting the minimum speed at 1mb/s.





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