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After 5-day blackout, Internet access in Egypt is restored

egypt-internet-access-restored-twitter-tweetAfter more than a week of violent protests and political upheaval, Egypt’s major Internet service providers brought the embattled country back online Wednesday, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal and The Next Web, as well as a deluge of first-person accounts on Twitter. The reconnection, which includes access to previously blocked sites like Twitter, comes only a day after more than a million Egyptians converged on Tahrir square in Cairo to call for President Hosni Mubarak to step down from power.

Reports that broadband access, as well as mobile and Blackberry services, had been restored began to appear online early Wednesday. Internet access monitors BGPMon and Netcraft confirmed that Egyptian websites had returned to the Web. And a tweet from Google brought further confirmation.

Egypt has been mostly offline since January 27, two days after protests erupted in the Middle Eastern country. Lack of broadband and mobile connections didn’t stop Egyptian dissidents from getting their message onto the Web (and out to the rest of the world) entirely, however, with many resorting to faxes, ham radio and dial-up Internet to post updates to Twitter and other online outlets. A Speak2Tweet application created by Google, which enabled people to phone-in Twitter updates, also helped protesters bypass the Internet block. Since protests began on January 25, services like Twitter and Facebook have played a central role in the Egyptian opposition movement.

With standard Internet access now available, updates from inside Egypt have been pouring onto the Web.

The restoration of Internet access is part of a broader effort by Mubarak’s government and the Egyptian military to urge citizens to return to normal life. At the time of this writing, however, “chaos” had erupted in Cairo, reports the Associated Press, as anti- and pro-Mubarak protesters clashed in a tidal wave of “uncontrolled violence” that involved assaults with bricks, firebombs and warriors riding camels. So despite the government’s wishes, it doesn’t seem as though anything resembling “normal” will happen in Egypt any time soon, regardless of how easily its citizens can publish a tweet.

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