What is Lumen Technologies? 'Gateway to the Internet' pulls plug on Russia

Lumen Technologies, an American company based in Louisiana, has decided that it will stop routing traffic for Russia-based organizations as Putin continues the invasion of Ukraine


                            What is Lumen Technologies? 'Gateway to the Internet' pulls plug on Russia
Lumen Technologies will stop routing traffic for Russia-based clients (Lumen Technologies and Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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An American company that operates one of the largest Internet backbones and carries a considerable portion of the global internet traffic has announced it will stop routing traffic for Russia-based organizations.

Lumen Technologies [NYSE: LUMN] took the decision just days after a similar move by fellow backbone provider Cogent. This came as millions of Russians are already suffering a news media crackdown and are left in the dark about President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. Lumen initially said that it would halt all new business with organizations based in Russia, thereby continuing to serve their existing clients in the country. However, the company declared on Tuesday, March 8, that it could no longer justify that stance, reporter Brian Krebs noted on his daily blog Krebs on Security.

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“Life has taken a turn in Russia and Lumen is unable to continue to operate in this market,” Lumen said in a statement. “The business services we provide are extremely small and very limited as is our physical presence. However, we are taking steps to immediately stop business in the region.”

The statement added, “We decided to disconnect the network due to increased security risk inside Russia. We have not yet experienced network disruptions but given the increasingly uncertain environment and the heightened risk of state action, we took this move to ensure the security of our and our customers’ networks, as well as the ongoing integrity of the global Internet.”

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What is Lumen Technologies?

Based in Monroe, Louisiana, Lumen -- often dubbed as the 'gateway to the Internet' -- was formerly known as CenturyLink. The company is reportedly the top international transit provider to Russia, according to Internet infrastructure monitoring firm Kentik. Its customers include Russian telecom giants Rostelecom and TTK, as well as all three major mobile operators MTS, Megafon, and VEON.

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Doug Madory, Kentik’s Director of Internet Analysis, noted how "a backbone carrier disconnecting its customers in a country the size of Russia is without precedent in the history of the internet and reflects the intense global reaction that the world has had over the invasion of Ukraine." Time will tell whether any other major Internet backbone providers will follow Lumen and Cogent's example. Madory, however, noted that Russia's own telecommunications firms will face hurdles paying foreign transit providers for service due to economic sanctions imposed by several Western nations that continue to bleed Russia's economy.

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Hundreds of people gather in Manhattan's Times Square in support of Ukraine and to demand an end to the Russian invasion of the country on March 5, 2022, in New York City (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

 

The move comes after Ukrainian leaders urged the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to disconnect Russia's top-level domain (.ru) from the Internet. The nonprofit organization, tasked with overseeing the global domain name system, respectfully declined the request. However, several tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, have decided in their own volition to suspend new business in the country.

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Meanwhile, Internet Society President Andrew Sullivan has warned that cutting a whole population off the Internet would stop the flow of truth. “Without the Internet, the rest of the world would not know of atrocities happening in other places,” Sullivan wrote a blog post titled 'Why the World Must Resist Calls to Undermine the Internet'.

“And without the Internet, ordinary citizens of many countries wouldn’t know what was being carried out in their name. Our best hope, however dim, is that those supporting an aggressive regime will change their support. More information can help, even as disinformation circulates. We need a better understanding of what is and is not disinformation," he insisted.

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