I woke up in the morning and the internet was not there

It was Friday 19 Dec, exactly 9:30 in the morning when I got a call from our NOC team informing me that our BGP peering session is in idle state with our main provider; idle means that the router is not even trying to establish a connection and since this is a direct connection I thought that the interface was down and it may be a physical problem, checking proved my assumptions so I asked them to escalate the case to the transmission engineers (this is SONET interface). I did not engage myself because we were prepared for that and the traffic would be rerouted to the backup provider automatically.

5 min later they called me again telling me that the our internet traffic is being dropped in the backup provider's backbone and we are not able to reach the internet. Oh, It seems it is going to be a nice morning, thanks God this was a holiday and still early in the morning so there was no customers pressure yet.

Got my laptop and started to play, after checking all the BGP stuff, calling the upstream providers with no answer at first also checking with the transmission engineers; I was told after about 30 min that there may be a cut in the 3 cables that are connecting us to Europe and nothing is known yet and no one can give an estimated time to solve the problem.

What the hell is that? we have lost about 80% of our countries internet bandwidth suddenly, I really had nothing to do, just felt the network like a city in the very first hours in the morning and the gateways seemed dead to me with no traffic traversing them. I still can browse the local sites looking for news about the problem, checking the TV but no news yet. For the first time I am one of the first persons who knew such a thing before the media.

Time started to go and I started to feel that I am locked in with most of my interests and activities resting there on the other end of the sea. I was not able to check the the email,blog, study, or even browse the sites I love. I am refreshing my browser from time to time and after about 24 hours without any internet available I realized the following points which I would like to share with you:

  • We are mostly living on the internet. Reading books, studying or communicating with others most of the time is spent there.
  • We are missing a lot of real life interaction sitting behind our monitors.
  • We are very dependent, everything we love is hosted out there far away from us and we have no control over it.
  • It is still possible to get disconnected from the rest of the world even in 21st century.
  • Worst things may happen, having two cuts in the same year in all the cables at once is a thing that requires concern.
  • Security has other means that we have not yet discovered and we are becoming more vulnerable by more relying on the technology.
  • We can still live without the internet :) but we will have to fill our time with different activities which may be even more useful.

For me I think I will try to find other activities to enjoy offline by recovering some of my online time and that we as humans should keep our manual skills sharp by choosing to reduce (at least in sometimes) our reliance on the technology.

2008 had provided people all over the world with a lot of lessons in many life aspects and had taught us that security is something that can not be found in the external world and it can only be found within ourselves, behaviors and cooperation with each other.

Cables are not fixed yet, although the government is managing the problem very well at least in my opinion we are still suffering from potential issues which are expected to end by the end of this year (2008). BBC explaining the problem.

Guys, Its your turn to ask this question. What if I woke up in the morning and the internet was not there?

Wael Osama

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