ANALYSIS-Egypt shows how easily Internet can be silenced
* First time almost entire country has been sealed off
* Small number of ISPs makes shutdown easy
* Facebook and Twitter particularly vulnerable
By Georgina Prodhan
LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The move by Egyptian authorities to seal off the country almost entirely from the Internet shows how easily a state can isolate its people when telecoms providers are few and compliant.
In an attempt to stop the frenzied online spread of dissent against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, not only Facebook and Twitter but the entire Internet was shut down overnight, leaving some 20 million users stranded.
Hundreds of service providers offer connections in Egypt, but just four own the infrastructure -- Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr.
Daniel Karrenberg, chief scientist at RIPE NCC, a European not-for-profit Internet infrastructure forum, says immature markets with few providers can achieve such shutdowns relatively easily. Continued...