Getting news out of an unplugged Egypt

Al Jazeera streams Egypt protests while people turn to old-fashioned landlines, faxes and ham radio to get information in and out of the country.

Al Jazeera's English language Web site streams the protests in Egypt.
Al Jazeera's English language Web site streams the protests in Egypt. Al Jazeera

If you are at a computer and you're not riveted by the Al Jazeera live video coverage of the protests in Egypt, you should be.

The images are fascinating to watch. Protesters--calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak--are seen ignoring curfew, running through the streets, clashing with tear gas-wielding police, and setting buildings on fire.

While the region's popular satellite channel broadcasts live footage of the events, a nearly countrywide clampdown on the Internet means there are few trickles from people on the ground via blogs and Twitter.

Mohamed Nanabhay, the head of Al Jazeera English online, said on his Twitter page that nearly 45 percent of the traffic to the site's Egypt coverage was coming from the U.S.

CNN's Web site also was showing its own live video in a window on the front page.

Meanwhile, Egyptians were finding ways around the Internet blockage, using old-fashioned landlines, faxes and even ham radio. Telecomix News Agency posted on Twitter that it was providing dial-up modem service and that activists are receiving Morse code messages over ham radio out of Egypt.

Some Egyptians are transmitting messages to people outside the country who were then posting them online, according to Global Voices Online blog.

Many people were posting on a special Jan25voices Twitter account, which was inaccessible mid-morning Pacific Time due to "over capacity."

"We are using phones and other means to speak with Egyptians behind the blocked Internet, tweeting their words in real time," a post said, according to Global Voices Online.

CNN's Cairo correspondent Ben Wedeman said he was sending his information via CNN's headquarters. "ALERT!!!! Cell phone, blackberrys #egypt down +internet This msg is relayed by landline thru CNNHQ," he wrote in a post on Twitter.

Also on Twitter, the WikiLeaks' account was reporting that activists were faxing WikiLeaks cables into Egypt to bypass the Internet blockade.

Updated 12:52 p.m. PT with Telecomix offering dial-up and confirming ham radio communications out of Egypt and 11:38 a.m. PT with CNN correspondent relaying Twitter posts via CNN headquarters.

 

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