Syrian mobile and internet connections down
Networks hit amidst growing protests, however landlines are functional
Communication networks failed in Syria today, one day after authorities arrested dozens of pro-democracy activists in a crackdown against anti-government protests, according to a report by AFP news agency.
"There is an arrest campaign and phone lines are down so people are suspecting interference but the government says it is a technical problem," the agency quoted a resident of Douma, north of Damascus, as saying. While the internet and mobile communications were down, the landlines run by the state-owned Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE) were stated to be functional.
The problem "was due to an overload of connections", a customer representative of Syria's phone and internet provider said in the report.
MTN Syria and Syriatel, the two mobile operators operating under build-operate-transfer (BOT) contracts in the country, offered customers one hour of free calls between April 2 and 6 "in recognition of the people who stood with the President (Bashar) al-Assad during the day of dignity." They were referring to pro-regime demonstrations in the capital last Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the auction for the third mobile licence in Syria is set to begin this month with a minimum reserve of $122 million. Five operators pre-qualified to bid for the auction, Qatar Telecom, Turkcell, Saudi Telecom, France Telecom and Etisalat, although the last two operators have since abandoned their bids, stating the terms of pricing as one of the main concerns.
The Syrian government announced its intention to award a third mobile licence in September 2010.