Under Siege: A Syrian Diary
Satellite Internet: a necessary evil
My flatmates and I have been waiting for the morning light so that we can go up to the roof and begin installing the Satellite Internet
My flatmates and I have been waiting for the morning light so that we can go up to the roof and begin installing the Satellite Internet device that we received last night.
We have been cut off from the outside world for four consecutive days because of a missile that targeted our previous device.
In most Homs neighbourhoods, the internet is cut. In the rebellious districts, there is not even telephone service, whether mobile or fixed, for most of the time. (Read More...)
Satellite Internet devices have two characteristics which activists on the ground can benefit from.
Firstly, the government has no control over them. So they cannot cut them. Secondly, while the regime monitors citizens online, Satellite Internet users are beyond their reach.
While the government has attempted several times to disrupt the service, activists always find a way to stop the congestion.
Buildings that have satellite internets have been targeted by missiles in several neighbourhoods. Recently, four buildings with media centres set up have been targeted with a large number of missiles.
We do not know whether the government has a specific technology to locate these devices or whether they rely on the intelligence information they receive from their informants here.
But regardless of this targeting and the danger these devices pose to our lives, we cannot stop using them. They are currently our only means to communicate and tell the world what is going on in Homs.
Satellite internet devices are very difficult to obtain, as they are banned in several neighbouring countries. So there are hurdles at every stage: From the moment they are bought, to their smuggling into country and finally to the moment they reach us.
In Lebanon, for example, Hezbollah members (who are against the Syrian revolution) have, in many cases, confiscated these devices on the borders and arrested those bringing them.
For these reasons, the number of Satellite Internet devices in the rebellious areas is very little compared to the great need of activists for internet access.
Because these devices are used during conditions similar to ours in remote areas, they tend to be very slow compared to ADSL, 3G and other methods used to connect to the internet.
What slows down the internet even further is the fact that more than 10 people share one device, when in fact it should not be used by more than three people.
The installation of the device is another hurdle. Firstly, those who have the expertise to install the device are very rare. And secondly, because these devices can only be installed on rooftops, those installing them are vulnerable to snipers positioned on tall buildings and camera drones used by the army to choose the next target to bomb.
Despite all of this, we know that information dissemination is very important in our revolution. We know that if we stop showing the world what is happening in our country, the regime will commit crimes that no one will ever know about; just like what happened in Hama in 1982.
Here am I writing to you again after we have just finished installing our new Internet device.