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Sudan was cut off from the Internet for 25 days


3 min read
Sudan was cut off from the Internet for 25 days

Internet traffic started to come back in Sudan (with limitations) on Thursday, November 18, 2021. This happened after 25 days of an almost complete shutdown that affected the whole country. It’s a simple line going up on a chart for us, but for a country that also meant that Internet access was (at least in part) back on with all of what comes with it for businesses, communities, families and society as a whole.

You can see that trend on Cloudflare Radar, in particular after 13:00 UTC (15:00 local time). After that Internet traffic went up like we haven’t seen at all in the previous three weeks.

Internet access was mostly cut off on October 25, 2021, after a political turmoil in the country. A Sudanese court previously ordered the restoration of Internet access on November 9, but until last Thursday, November 18, there were no signs of services returning to normal. The biggest Internet access shutdown in recent history in the country was back in 2019 — for a full 36 days.

Looking back at the last 30 days Cloudflare Radar shows very distinctively a big difference from what was previously normal in the country.

On Wednesday, November 17, (around 11:00 UTC) we saw a further drop in traffic getting Internet traffic in the country close to zero.

Now our data shows that the Internet in Sudan picked up firstly thanks to two ISPs, Mobitel and MTN. One of the largest in the country, Sudatel (purple line) for a few hours was also still mostly down, but it came back later in the evening (~18:00 UTC).

In terms of social media, our data also shows that especially Facebook traffic went up at the same time Internet access was beginning to pick up but went down a few hours later. According to local reports, there could be restrictions to social media on mobile networks in the country.

Mobile traffic saw a big increase, especially after 14:00 UTC. That is normal behaviour in a country where mobile traffic is king (back in October we showed in our blog post about mobile traffic how Sudan was one of the countries in the world with a large percentage of mobile traffic — 83%).

Internet shutdowns are not that rare

We’ve said it before here in our blog, but it is always good to emphasize: Internet disruptions, including shutdowns and social media restrictions, are common occurrences in some countries and Sudan is one where this happens more frequently than most countries according to Human Rights Watch.

In our June 22, 2021, blog, we talked about Sudan when the country decided to shut down the Internet to prevent cheating in exams, but there were situations in the past more similar to this days-long shutdown — something that usually happens when there’s political unrest.

The country's longest recorded network disruption was back in 2018, when Sudanese authorities cut off access to social media (and messaging apps like WhatsApp) for 68 consecutive days from December 21, 2018, to February 26, 2019. After that, there was a full mobile Internet shutdown reported from June 3 to July 9, 2019, that lasted 36 days.

This time, in 2021, it was 25 days when the Internet access was reduced to just a trickle of traffic getting through.

You can keep an eye on Cloudflare Radar to monitor how we see the Internet traffic globally and in every country.

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João Tomé|@emot

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