BBC News

Libyan rebels improve net access

image captionNet traffic flowing through Benghazi is seeing a steady and significant increase

Net access in Libya is improving in areas under the control of protesters, suggests analysis of data flows.

The Libyan authorities have sporadically cut net access in the country but analysis by net firms suggest their hold is loosening.

In areas that are no longer under control of the Libyan government net traffic has risen in recent days.

For instance, over the weekend net traffic flowing out of Benghazi increased significantly.

Data flow

One tactic used by the Libyan government to stifle protest has been to intermittently block net access and stop people using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Net access in Libya has been running at about 60-80% of normal levels since the government started blocking it on 18 February suggests analysis by Craig Labovitz of net monitoring firm Arbor Networks.

However, he said in a blog post, the amount of net traffic flowing in and out of Libya is starting to grow. Over the last weekend of February traffic levels were almost back to normal. Statistics gathered by Google on Libyan use of its search engine show a similar pattern.

Although Tripoli remains a black spot of internet access, broader internet connectivity was returning in other cities.

Mr Labovitz speculates that this is because although the internet in Libya is handled through the state-controlled network, Libya Telecom and Technology, the infrastructure for it is spread around the country.

This could mean that control of net access gets looser as areas wrest control away from the government.

Evidence for this comes from net traffic seen flowing out of Benghazi which, wrote Mr Labovitz, has shown "significant increase" since 25 February. By contrast, before that data net traffic was reduced and sometimes at zero when access was severed.