Internet backbone provider Cogent shuts off service in Russia

Cogent Communications, an internet backbone provider, has terminated services for clients in Russia. The company’s goal is to prevent the Russian government from using the company’s networks for cyberattacks and propaganda, Cogent’s CEO stated. Cogent is a multinational Tier 1 internet service provider (ISP), providing over 60,676 route miles of intercity fibre and more than 39,559 metro fibre miles. Cogent’s most prominent Russian customers included major state-backed telecom operator Rostelecom, Russian search engine Yandex, and two of Russia’s largest mobile carriers: MegaFon and VEON.

While Cogent’s move will not cut off Russia from the internet, traffic from Cogent’s former customers will fall back on other backbone providers in the country, potentially resulting in network congestion. If more providers make the same move, the internet will become more fragile and less interconnected, experts warn. Digital rights activists warn that Cogent’s move will cut off Russians from sources of independent news and the ability to organise anti-war protests.