29 Jan 2011

When revolution hits transmission problems

The social network is on fire. Despite Egypt’s best efforts the revolution is under way. Whether it ends in Mubarak or no Mubarak, the movement for change travels on the shoulders of the web.

What is to be thought of Vodafone and other providers who terminated their connections and brought mobile networks down at the orders of the “authorities”? What judgement will they make of when power shifts? Will they then restore service? Suddenly it’s not the social network with the power, but the telecoms companies who own the transmission systems.

When the dominoes begin to swing in the wind of change, the next “authorities” will move faster to down the modes of transmission. The one to watch is Saudi Arabia – ripe for change but far from the frontline of those most likely to go. But intriguingly I learn from expert construction sources that yesterday anyone with a satellite phone had to hand it in. Another, a doctor, tells me of tension after Friday prayers in Jeddah, a vast police presence and large crowds. No Egyptian scenes but, I repeat, tension. Not normal in Saudi.

Egypt protests: full coverage from Channel News

And if those in the north begin to sympathise with “movements” in the south attempting to overthrow autocracy, will they begin visit their ire on transmission corps that take sides?

Unlikely but intriguing. Tricky for those corps anyway. Once you do business with an autocracy, or a dictatorship, departing from that authority’s orders is as big a decision as agreeing to business with them in the first place.

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