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Internet shut-down easier, in more countries, than you think

A look at Renesys’ ‘could it happen to you?’ analysis

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Given Syria’s recent “have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?” Internet experience, analysing what other countries this might happen to is a good idea.

It’s a particularly pertinent question given the current America-Versus-The-Black-Helicopters scenario currently playing out at WCIT, as countries line up for-and-against the ITU’s mooted re-write of the International Telecommunications Regulations.

Renesys, the company that documented the Syrian telecommunications blackout last week, has released just such an analysis, here. Unsurprisingly, it rates North America and most of Europe as “resilient” in the face of attempts to yank the “kill switch” on Internet services.

As Renesys states, its analysis is based on the routing table, which indicates how many network operators announce routes at the IP layer – which ignores the diversity of physical paths available, as is documented by Telegeography.

The Register is not proposing a full run-down of errors on a country-by-country basis, but would draw readers’ attention to two nations familiar to us, Australia and New Zealand.

According to Renesys’ definition, “if you have more than 40 providers at your frontier, your country is likely to be extremely resistant to Internet disconnection” while “if you have fewer than 10 service providers at your international frontier, your country is probably exposed to some significant risk of Internet disconnection”. At most risk are countries with “one or two companies at your international frontier”.

Australia is rated “resistant” in both the map and the table Renesis provides, while New Zealand carries the “low risk” colour on the map (but is listed as “resistant” in the table).

The reason The Register is querying these assessments lies in the submarine cable interconnectedness of these two countries. Australia’s major international fibre links are the Southern Cross Cable Network, the Telstra Endeavour cable, the Australia-Japan Cable, TPG’s PPC-1, and Sea-Me-We 3 (the cables connecting Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia aren’t relevant to this discussion).

While Australia may have more than 40 announced routes at the frontier, those routes traverse just five cables.

Poor suffering New Zealand has one trans-Pacific connection – the Southern Cross Cable Network – and one trans-Tasman cable, Tasman 2. ®

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