Join 3,432 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"We went to fight with flags.... Gadhafi forced us back to the stone age."
April 13, 2011 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Shortly after the unrest in Libya started, the country was cut off from the internet, cell phone infrastructure was limited and used to send SMS messages calling on subscribers to attack foreigners, and satellite phones were jammed. In response, engineers have recently re-routed some of the national cellphone network to make a new system, Free Libya.

According to the article, the rebel network was set up with help from U.A.E. and Qatar to buy expensive telecom equipment that wouldn't generally be available to non-government entities. Ousama Abushagur, a Libyan telecom executive and main organizer of rebel telecom system, tweeted a correction to the article as run by The Telegraph, stating that U.A.E. and Etisalat weren't involved in the newly created network.
posted by filthy light thief (15 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Can't stop the signal.
posted by Jon_Evil at 5:02 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The network is the message?
posted by localhuman at 5:06 PM on April 13, 2011


They are really going to wish they had gotten the " prepaid in-country wiring service" once they get the bill for this.
posted by Xoebe at 5:06 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


yes I know, but there are wires to the cell towers...
posted by Xoebe at 5:07 PM on April 13, 2011


And that's the only thing I need is *this*. I don't need this or this. Just this radio station... And this Green book. - The radio station and the green book and that's all I need... And this remote control. - The radio station, the green book, and the remote control, and that's all I need... And this tonne of Gold...
posted by clavdivs at 5:25 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Great, now we just need to do that in the US, before the "internet kill switch bill" gets passed.
posted by inedible at 5:51 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Chinese company Huawei Technologies Ltd., one of the original contractors for Libyana's cellular network backbone, refused to sell equipment for the rebel project, causing Mr. Abushagur and his engineer buddies to scramble to find a hybrid technical solution to match other companies' hardware with the existing Libyan network. Huawei declined to comment on its customers or work in Libya. The Libyan expats in the project asked that their corporate affiliations be kept confidential so that their political activities don't interfere with their work responsibilities.

Um ... Not really that hard to guess ... Huawei's products are all reverse-engineered Cisco designs.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:29 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Great, now we just need to do that in the US, before the "internet kill switch bill" gets passed.

Trust me, we worked something out around 2008. The people who need to know, know.

Don't bother Googling it.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 6:30 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


zenmaster, Cisco doesn't make GSM BTS/BSC, sector antennas for GSM, backhaul microwave systems, GSM billing/authentication systems or SMS message centre server software, so it would be hard to reverse engineer something that doesn't exist
posted by thewalrus at 8:07 PM on April 13, 2011


Maybe not ALL of those specific elements, but their gear clearly supports GSM infrastructure.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:53 PM on April 13, 2011


Does it really matter who supports what and in what configuration? The point is this wasn't a typical telcoms takeover - they disconnected major parts of an existing network, set up the central offices or whatever needed to run the new network, and got it running. Very impressive.

Also scary how handicapped the rebels were without effective radio or phone communications.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:06 PM on April 13, 2011


Guerilla network engineer? Does this character exist in fiction yet?
posted by Harald74 at 1:57 AM on April 14, 2011


The people who need to know, know.

I need to know!
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:48 AM on April 14, 2011


Guerilla network engineer? Does this character exist in fiction yet?

Only if the author's Cory Doctorow.
posted by acb at 6:52 AM on April 14, 2011


Guerilla network engineer? Does this character exist in fiction yet?

I'd say there's some precedent in the character of Harry Tuttle in the movie Brazil. Rogue HVAC Engineer, but still.

I've been getting back into researching ad-hoc networking since all this government interference in network operation has been going on, and there's a project that started that intends to create "a private, citizen-owned communications infrastructure". There's quite a bit of low-cost WiFi gear that runs open source software and can be used to create mesh networks these days. The OpenBTS project is also very impressive and acts as a GSM BTS. While that may not be of much use in the US because of spectrum licensing (anyone know a way around/though this?), it still has a lot of potential in developing countries and perhaps emergency communications.

I think it's going to become increasingly important to provide a means to keep some of the distributed/decentralized/fault-tolerant qualities of the internet in the coming years.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:03 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older Australian author, John Birmingham, recently visit...  |  Hugh Grant's Linda Tripp.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments