When Maldives was offline!


The recent hack on Dhiraagu which happened on the busiest days of the year certainly delivered a message for the country. Tourists from all resorts in the country would have experienced this as they would have tried in vain to connect back to their families to say “happy new year” via social media, VoIP etc. and IT folks would generally be trying to convince the guests that a whole country’s internet could somehow be sabotaged by some unknown saboteurs! Those who did the DDOS on the network now seems to have been apprehended and their reason for engaging in this behaviour according to them seems to be to give Dhiraagu (the sole local isp) a new year message basically saying “ You are over priced”, and “You are too slow.. we need more speed!” These messages are basically truthful but the way in which the message was delivered was clearly not bright. A whole country (the economy involved) does not have to suffer just because one has a message to be delivered.

That Dhiraagu is big and bad is acknowledged. It has always been that way almost from the start. Dhiraagu became a big unfeeling ugly giant monopoly (too many adjectives tha ?) thanks to the former regime which wanted to favour the then long standing foreign minister who was chairman of the board of that company for as long as people can remember. The company grew and grew (like the giant turnip ..!) till Wataniyya inevitably appeared after much calls by the people and international bodies that the services Dhiraagu is providing as the sole monopoly are very high. Even then Wataniyya faced uphill battle as it is squeezed in from all sides by Dhiraagu (much like what Microsoft did to other smaller fish around it!) and today Dhiraagu is still the only real isp in the country. The other one called Focus does not have a wired network like Dhiraagu so they use the cable TV networks which is not the same thing. Dhiraagu is now the isp over wired the network as well as wireless network all over the country. Wataniyya is only authorized to give limited isp service on mobile internet but even with which it is doing a splendid job.

A government’s role in business would be to ensure fair-play in business. Restriction one sector or service to one company over the whole of a country would create a situation like what we have in the country now. Just like the trade ministry okay’s any new retail shop permit anywhere, so shall the Telecom ministry. It should be up to the entrepreneur to take risks on a business of his choice.