IRAN: Internet access, text-messaging service down as 22 Bahman protests approach
In the last week, Internet connections across Iran have slowed to a crawl, with sources in Tehran reporting that, when service is available at all, it is so slow that checking e-mail is nearly impossible.
After connections worsened, Iran's communications minister, Reza Taghipour, told a state broadcaster (via Agence France-Presse): "The cause of the reduced service in recent days is that part of the fiber-optic network is damaged." The minister asserted that the damage to an undersea cable was due to shipping traffic and anchoring. As for the concurrent slowing of text-messaging service, Taghipour attributed the disruption to "changing software."
Given the Tehran government's recent history of Internet censorship and the vital role of social media and texting to the opposition movement, the disruption seems less than coincidental as Thursday's 22 Bahman holiday is expected to be an occasion of massive anti-regime protests. Taghipour did little to dismiss such suspicions by stating that "the breakage will be repaired by next week and the Internet speed will be back to normal," conveniently right after the planned protests.
Photo: In this June 11, 2009, photo, an Iranian woman who declined to give her name uses a computer at an Internet cafe in northern Tehran. Credit: Ben Curtis / Associated Press