BEIRUT: Internet users throughout Lebanon experienced a major slow-down Monday morning, as the country lost the connection to its primary underwater India-Middle East-Western Europe (IMEWE) cable, a Telecoms Ministry source told The Daily Star.
The slow-down appeared to last from approximately 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., affecting the entire country, Internet users told The Daily Star. Technicians resolved the problem by transferring the service from Tripoli-Jdeideh to another line.
Ozo Najjar from the northern city of Tripoli said that he had been using his phone for Internet, as his computer connection was not working Monday morning.
Samer Karam, head of the Internet activist group Flip the Switch, said that Monday morning’s slow-down appeared to be a capacity problem in trying to connect to websites outside of Lebanon.
He noted that the ministry has several cables installed in case one breaks, and expressed puzzlement over how this problem could arise with such a back-up plan in place.
He suggested that the government could be doing maintenance over the Eid Al-Adha holiday.
Lebanon’s Telecom Ministry had promised that the country’s internet speed would greatly increase in early October. Over the past couple of weeks, some users reported faster speed. However, others have reported recent slow-downs.
Lebanon’s 1 million Internet users have waited years for an increase to speeds which have been rated the worst in the world by online speed-testing group, Speednet.com.
Critics cite key issues, including a national Internet backbone that is obsolete and needs upgrading, distribution delays, archaic legislation, and the sector’s lack of transparency.
Some activists contend that the infrastructure necessary for a fast connection is ready, but that political bickering is preventing it from being “switched on.”
This appeared to be resolved over the summer, with the activation of the IMEWE, an international fiber optic submarine cable, and the release by the government of the new schedule of prices.