Internet companies say Syria is experiencing online outage

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Syria is experiencing an Internet outage similar to a two-day blackout late last fall, according to companies that monitor online traffic around the world.

Jim Cowie, the chief technology officer at Renesys, said his firm saw Syria’s networks go offline abruptly at 6:25 p.m. UTC (2:25 p.m. EDT) on Tuesday.

Google Inc. also indicated that its services were inaccessible in Syria for more than three hours as of 6:00 p.m. EDT.

Syrian authorities have cut phone and Internet service in select areas in the past to disrupt rebel communications when regime forces were conducting major operations. Such widespread outages, however, have been rare.

Akamai Technologies Inc., which helps companies distribute online content, also confirmed the outage.

“We saw our traffic to that region drop to zero,” said David Belson, who monitors the traffic at Akamai.

Last fall’s communications blackout also included telephone service, but it was unclear late Tuesday if phone service was also cut off in the civil war-torn country. Belson said there was another, brief outage in early January.