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While websites originating in Russia once dominated the Belarusian internet, this trend is changing.
In 2009, up to 94 percent of internet traffic from Belarus was to Russia-based sources; as of 2016, traffic to Russian sources and Western sources was almost equal.
Smartphones are becoming cheaper and their share in the mobile market is rising in Belarus.
Google’s 2016 Connected Consumer Survey found that 59 percent of Belarusians are using smartphones; for those under 35, the figure is 89 percent.
Seventy-two percent of the urban population has access to the internet, compared to 52 percent in rural areas.
The outage was widely regarded as an attempt to prevent journalists and protesters from reporting and live streaming from the demonstration.
Beltelecom is known to periodically flood the market with under-priced packages to reduce competition from private operators.
While Belarus has two official languages—Belarusian and Russian—the majority of citizens use Russian in daily life.
Recognizing that social media and communication platforms were crucial to sparking and sustaining the protest movement, the government temporarily blocked mobile internet in protest hotspots, and attempted to quash live streaming and digital reporting about the demonstrations.
Digital journalists reporting from the protests were targeted by law enforcement, and violently detained in many cases.