Nepal communications hit by power outage, last-mile issues

A number of companies like Facebook and Google offered Internet tools after the Saturday earthquake near Kathmandu

Phone and Internet communications have been hit in Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu after a devastating earthquake, forcing aid workers at times to ask people to go across with messages.

The International Red Cross and tech companies like Facebook and Google introduced tools to help users check online on people affected, but their effectiveness could be impacted by large-scale power outages and last-mile Internet connectivity problems.

"Communication is very difficult within Kathmandu and to rural areas," said Zubin Zaman, deputy director at aid agency Oxfam India.

Telephone links are patchy and the Internet is extremely slow, Zaman said Monday. The problem with communicating over the Internet has been compounded by an electricity outage which has affected people's ability to recharge their smartphones and laptops, he added.

Many users complained that they couldn't use their smartphones as there was no electricity to charge the devices. "Thank god electricity is back," wrote Bimal Maharjan, founder and CEO at 11Beep, the developer of a mobile social network to which users can post anonymously. He added that the restoration of electricity in his area would allow him to recharge his smartphone.

Maharjan said he had spent two nights in a make-shift tent. "What's home when u are unsafe at home," he wrote in a tweet.

Over 3,200 people have been reported killed in an earthquake of 7.8 magnitude on Saturday that hit about 80 kilometers from Kathmandu. It was followed by a number of aftershocks through Sunday.

On Saturday, Internet performance monitoring company Dyn said Nepal Telecom had been able to maintain the country's global connectivity to the Internet but it warned that the earthquake could have affected last-mile connectivity.

Google deployed its Person Finder, a Web application that lets people post or search for information on relatives and friends affected by a disaster. The company did not immediately provide data on the effectiveness of the tool, which early Monday was tracking about 5,000 records.

Facebook activated its Safety Check tool that traces users near a disaster site based on the city they list on their profile, or from the location they used to access the Internet. Users are then asked to confirm if they are safe or if they are not in the affected area.

The Red Cross has also deployed a Web tool that lets people report relatives and friends they think are missing. The tool also allows users to communicate that they are alive. One Hour Translation is also offering free its translation tool to help aid workers to communicate with the local people who speak around 120 languages.

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

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetGoogleFacebookoxfamInternational Red Cross

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?