The Internet As A Place

The Cairo Internet Exchange (CAIX) building, the most important internet hub for Egypt and the whole North Africa region.

The internet actually is a place you can visit.

Buildings of different importance are spread out all over the world, but are not situated in a “typical” notions of a connected world. This buildings are to facilitation and management of the connections.

The internet connects cities, countries and continents. Fiber-optic cables are what make this connection possible. These cables follow the shortest path between two points. One of the most important locations is Egypt which is a significan location for international data traffic and the cables carrying data follow the same path that international trade lines do, passing through the Suez Canal. Due to Egypt’s geographical location, the state has benefitted from it in a number of ways. Suez Canal brings in billions of dollars on an annual basis, there is money to be made from selling licenses to cable laying companies, and the Egyptian government is well aware of this.

Downtown Cairo, they host the largest internet exchange – the Cairo Internet Exchange or CAIX – and cable systems like SEA-ME-WE-3 and 4 or FLAG are routed ashore in Alexandria.

It’s “not all sparks & romance” because many Egyptians don’t enjoy many of the same freedoms as others with the same infrastructure. For example, back in January 28, 2011, the internet was shut down nationwide from the CAIX directly in an unprecedented move by the Egyptian government.

It might not sound advantageous that the informational infrastructure for most countries is in the hands of private companies with their thirst for profit, but it’s frightening that governments also maintain such a tight grip on networks, broadcasting the voices of some and silencing others.

Egyptians can proudly say that the magic of the internet, both tangible and intangible, flows from a handful of buildings in Cairo and Alexandria.

Beside the pyramids and other ancient wonders, Egypt has a lot more to offer.

Normal Wi-Fi routers in living rooms in Cairo.
An area for praying amongst old server racks at a warehouse run by Alcatel-Lucent on the outskirts of Cairo.
An area for praying amongst old server racks at a warehouse run by Alcatel-Lucent on the outskirts of Cairo.
A map of all international submarine cable systems that physically connect the world is seen on a wall at the Cairo offices of submarine cable operator MENA SCS.
A map of all international submarine cable systems that physically connect the world is seen on a wall at the Cairo offices of submarine cable operator MENA SCS.

The Internet location

The point of the Egyptian coast at Alexandria where four international submarine cables enter Africa.
The point of the Egyptian coast at Alexandria where four international submarine cables enter Africa.
Look close this palm tree. Actually it's a mobile phone antenna which has been disguised as a palm tree
Look close this palm tree. Actually it’s a mobile phone antenna which has been disguised as a palm tree
An apartments block in Cairo
An apartments block in Cairo
Just the rows of chairs near the Great Sphinx of Giza
Just the rows of chairs near the Great Sphinx of Giza
The Maspero building in downtown Cairo which is the home to state-run television and radio networks.
The Maspero building in downtown Cairo which is the home to state-run television and radio networks.
The headquarters of Telecom Egypt in Smart Village, a suburb on the outskirts of Cairo.
The headquarters of Telecom Egypt in Smart Village, a suburb on the outskirts of Cairo.
A Point of Precense in downtown Cairo
A Point of Precense in downtown Cairo
An image of a data center near an ECC Data Center facility in Cairo.
An image of a data center near an ECC Data Center facility in Cairo.
A television broadcaster sets up a temporary internet connection to broadcast live from Tahrir Square, Cairo.
A television broadcaster sets up a temporary internet connection to broadcast live from Tahrir Square, Cairo.
Part of a building complex that acts both as a “Point of Presence” (an access point to the internet) in Alexandria and as a cable landing station for international submarine cables.
Part of a building complex that acts both as a “Point of Presence” (an access point to the internet) in Alexandria and as a cable landing station for international submarine cables.
A cross section of a fiber-optic cable, photographed office of cable operator MENA SCS in Cairo.
A cross section of a fiber-optic cable, photographed office of cable operator MENA SCS in Cairo.
The Cairo Internet Exchange (CAIX) building, the most important internet hub for Egypt and the whole North Africa region.
The Cairo Internet Exchange (CAIX) building, the most important internet hub for Egypt and the whole North Africa region.
A box of wires that connects an area of Giza.
A box of wires that connects an area of Giza.

Meelis Paloson

Meelis Paloson

Founder at Meanwhiler.me
I'm the Founder of Meanwhiler.me. Originally I'm from a tiny country called Estonia but I have been living in Barcelona, Spain since summer 2004.

I'm passionate about social media, new technologies, gadgets, business development, healthy cooking, fitness, music and travel. I like spending time walking around and getting inspiration.
Meelis Paloson

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