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Google Message Relay – The penultimate resource of last resort

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Google’s announcement comes as Egypt’s last standing ISP is disabled. Noor Group, a DSL provider, managed to remain online last week as the Egyptian government ordered ISPs to pull the plug. Unfortunately, Noor’s traffic appears to have trickled to a halt. “As of approximately 20:46 UTC, Noor is no longer reachable from outside of Egypt,” reported Renesys, an Internet monitoring firm.

Read a related article: Amateur Radio – When all else fails
Get on the air in your community – The Local Community Radio Act 2011

We are very dependent on the Internet for just about everything.  What happens when a government pulls the plug on their country’s Internet connections effectively disconnecting their citizens from the outside world?

It’s interesting that Amateur Radio has positioned itself as the communication resource of last resort.  It could be that Google is the penultimate communication resource of last resort – at least for the current situation in Egypt.

If we do get to Amateur Radio as truly the communication of last resort for an entire country I wonder what the world would look like in that scenario.

Read the article from Reuters…

(Reuters) – Google Inc launched a special service to allow people in Egypt to send Twitter messages by dialing a phone number and leaving a voicemail, as Internet access remains cut off in the country amid anti-government protests.

“Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground,” read a post on Google’s official corporate blog on Monday.

The service, which Google said was developed with engineers from Twitter, allows people to dial a telephone number and leave a voicemail. The voicemail is automatically translated into an audio file message that is sent on Twitter using the identifying tag #egypt, Google said.

Google said in the blog post, titled “Some weekend work that will (hopefully) enable more Egyptians to be heard,” that no Internet connection is needed to use the service.

It listed three phone numbers for people to call to use the service.

Internet social networking services like Twitter and Facebook have been important tools of communications for protesters in Egypt who have taken to the streets since last week to demonstrate against the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

Internet service has been suspended around the country and phone text messaging has been disabled.

A source familiar with the matter said Google, whose corporate motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” was not taking sides in the crisis in Egypt, but was simply supporting access to information as it has done with other services such as video website YouTube.

YouTube has been streaming live coverage of Al Jazeera’s broadcasts of the events in Egypt.

Dozens of the so-called speak-to-tweet messages were featured on Twitter on Monday. The messages ranged from a few seconds to several minutes and featured people identifying themselves as Egyptians and describing the situations in various parts of the country.

“The government is spreading rumors of fear and of burglary and of violence,” said one of the messages from an English speaker. “The only incidence of theft and burglary are done by the police themselves.”

Google listed the following numbers for people to use the service: +16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855.


Written by frrl

February 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

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