Internet Disruption Report: March 2020

Although Internet disruptions have always been problematic for affected users, March 2020 was arguably the month where they became of ever greater global concern as so many shifted to working and learning from home due to COVID-19 driven lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders. The Internet has become a lifeline, supporting communication with loved ones, enabling online education, and facilitating days full of videoconferencing in place of in-person meetings.

While this blog has never claimed to be exhaustive in its coverage of Internet disruptions, it has endeavored to catalog the various causes of those disruptions, and most months see quite a few documented causes. Interestingly, March only saw documented disruptions due to power outages and cable/fiber issues, with a couple of additional due to possible network issues. (There were, of course, a number of other observed disruptions, but root causes were unable to be identified or confirmed through research or social media outreach.)

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Internet Disruption Report: January 2020

January 2020 brought the start of both a new year and a new decade, not to mention the continued deployment of satellite constellations that will be used to provide broadband Internet connectivity around the world. While space-based Internet connectivity holds promise for the future, Internet connectivity delivered through terrestrial and submarine infrastructure saw its fair share of problems throughout the month. In January, Internet disruptions caused by earthquakes, power outages, network maintenance, government direction, and cable cuts were observed.

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Internet Disruption Report: December 2019

Internet-related media coverage in December tends to be e-commerce related, with discussions about how retail sites performed (or failed to) on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, followed by complaints about problems downloading software updates or games, and registering new connected devices after the holiday presents are unwrapped. However, when Internet disruptions occur, that coverage shifts to highlight the problems caused by the disruptions.

This final Internet Disruption Report post for 2019 is a long one, covering disruptions caused by a DDoS attack, power outages, cable/fiber/network issues, and government direction. Some countries make multiple appearances in this month’s report, and some have been featured in multiple reports throughout the year. In addition to observed disruptions, we also review Russia’s reported Internet disconnection test, as well as a few additional related observations.

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Internet Disruption Report: November 2019

In November, many of us in the United States think about the Internet in terms of having to fix the connectivity problems at a relative’s house while visiting them for Thanksgiving, or using it to escape from those same relatives for a few minutes by browsing social media or watching a video. However, across the rest of the world, the connectivity problems seen in November weren’t the kind a quick router reboot would solve. Blackouts caused Internet disruptions in Curaçao and Venezuela, fiber/cable issues caused problems in Haiti, Venezuela, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia, and routing issues disrupted connectivity in Indonesia and Ecuador. However, the most significant Internet disruptions in November were week-long government directed shutdowns in Iraq and Iran.

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Internet Disruption Report: October 2019

Notable Internet disruptions observed in October were generally short-lived and due to power outages, cable cuts, and other acknowledged but unexplained network issues. However, the most significant disruption observed during the month occurred in Iraq, and was due to a government directed shutdown of Internet connectivity for over a week in response to violent protests. Total losses due to this shutdown were estimated at nearly 1 Billion USD.

(Apologies for posting this month’s update a few weeks later than usual – sometimes life and work get in the way of blogging…)

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Internet Disruption Report: September 2019

September… when school is back in session, the leaves begin to change, and stable Internet connectivity apparently remains elusive in many countries. Although the Internet disruptions observed around the world this during last month were not due to the change of seasons or the start of school, their underlying causes were very familiar, including power outages, national exams, severe weather, network issues, and DDoS attacks.

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Internet Disruption Report: July 2019

After a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month in June, the number and severity of significant Internet disruptions observed in July was markedly lower. The month was book-ended by exam-related outages, while other observed connectivity disruptions were related to a massive power outage, severe weather, government direction, and fiber/cable issues. Several additional unattributed disruptions were also seen over the course of the month.

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