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Myanmar Internet Shutdown

There have been lots of press stories in the last day reporting on what the Internet shutdown in Myanmar looked like for people there, and that's the important story. This is what it looked like to the rest of the world, from an Internet infrastructure standpoint.

The connection between Myanmar and the rest of the world appears to be turned back on, at least temporarily. The 45 megabit per second circuit connecting Myanmar to Kuala Lumpur that is Myanmar's primary connection to the Internet came back up at 14:27 UTC today. It had mostly been "hard down," indicating either that it had been unplugged or that the router it was connected to was turned off, with the exception of a few brief periods since September 28.

Myanmar's country code top level domain, .MM, disappeared. It's served by three name servers, ns0.mpt.net.mm, ns.net.mm, and ns-mm.ripe.net.

1) ns0.mpt.net.mm is in Myanmar, part of the network of Myanma Post & Telecommunication (MPT). It was unreachable.

2) ns.net.mm is in address space registered to Powerbase DataCenter Services (HK) Ltd. in Hong Kong. It is still unreachable, which makes it difficult to confirm whether its physical location matches its registered location. It may also be in Myanmar, or may be in Hong Kong and may be down for reasons unrelated to the rest of the shutdown.

3) ns-mm.ripe.net is in Amsterdam. It has been reachable, but is responding to all queries with a SERVFAIL response. Presumably, this means it hasn't been able to get updates from a master server for the .MM domain for long enough that its data has expired.

Looking at the rest of Myanmar's connectivity to the outside world, MPT has the IP address block (8192 addresses). Another Internet Service Provider, Bagan Cybernet, has the address block (4096 addresses), but uses MPT for its international connectivity. Daily snapshots from the University of Oregon Route Views Project show both of those blocks in the global Internet routing table on September 27, but show them to have been missing since September 28. Marshall Eubanks, posting on the NANOG mailing list, says he's seen the routes appear briefly a few times since then, matching press reports of occasional brief restorations of service.

This looks somewhat similar to how Nepal cut itself off from the Internet for a week during a coup in 2005. In that case, the shutdown was accomplished by soldiers occupying the Internet Service Providers' offices and ordering them to turn off their networks. Nepal had many more Internet Service Providers than Myanmar does, and Myanmar's is run by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, so the effort necessary to enforce the shutoff may be different there.

By Steve Gibbard, Network Architect

Related topics: Internet Governance, Top-Level Domains

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