May 7, 2013 at 6:13 PM ET
War-torn Syria has gone almost completely offline in what appears to be an Internet blackout, according to traffic readouts by Google and global Internet monitoring service Renesys. The country's networks went down at around 2:45 p.m. ET. (9:45 PM in Syria).
No communication from Syria has been made explaining the outage, but it is unlikely to be the result of an accident or environmental factors. As analysts at Renesys pointed out after November's week-long blackout, Syria is particularly easy to isolate from the Internet, having as it does only two "frontier" Internet service providers that essentially connect the country with the rest of the world.
Government or rebel pressure on these service providers could produce a near-instantaneous cutoff of all Internet access that could just as easily be restored when the need arises. No need for bombs or cutting the power — a few settings changed and most incoming and outgoing connections are interrupted.
Renesys's Internet Events Bulletin showed shortly after the outage began that 79 percent of the networks in the country had gone offline, most of which were connected through the government-affiliated Syrian Telecom. Google shows a total cutoff of its services in the country.
This story is developing, and will be added to as more facts come to light.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.