Internet steady in Nepal after earthquake but last-mile connectivity an issue

An earthquake near Kathmandu of 7.8 magnitude killed over 900 people

The Internet is playing an important role in communications in Nepal after a devastating earthquake, as phone links were choked by the large number of people trying to connect.

Internet service was disrupted after the earthquake hit near the capital city of Kathmandu on Saturday and cloud services provider Akamai said its traffic to the country saw a steep decline just after 6:00 UTC.

Nepal Telecom survived the earthquake while smaller Internet service providers experienced outages, Internet performance monitoring company Dyn said. It had earlier reported that the earthquake had rattled the Internet in the country.

The company's Director of Internet Analysis Doug Madory did not rule out last-mile connectivity issues in Nepal that could prevent residents of Kathmandu from accessing service.

"We can see that Nepal Telecom has maintained its connection to the global Internet," he wrote in an email. "Having said that, the destruction from the earthquake will likely have had impact on 'last mile' connectivity that is more difficult for us to observe."

The Nepal government's web portal could not be immediately accessed, though some other government websites including those of the ministries of finance and home affairs were available.

Over 900 people have so far been reported killed in the earthquake about 80 kilometers to the northeast of Kathmandu, with the death toll expected to rise as rescue efforts continue.

Encountering busy phone lines, some people and agencies recommended that people use the Internet. "Phone network is very busy. Can only access Internet," one individual tweeted.

Google has deployed its Person Finder to help track people in Nepal. The Web application lets people post or search for information on relatives and friends affected by a disaster. Google first built the tool in response to the January 2010 Haiti earthquake.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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