Apps to beat Net shutdown

As the government frequently shuts down the Internet, Bluetooth and other alternatives come to the rescue
Last Updated 20 December 2019, 12:34 IST

As pan-India protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens intensified on Thursday, Internet, voice and messaging services by telecom service providers, including Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio, were suspended in many parts of the country.

Here are some messaging and chat apps and other handy services that can work without the Internet.


This app lets users communicate with nearby devices without Internet or mobile phone coverage. It provides an open wireless service functioning on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hotspot and also supports text and images.


Makes use of a mesh network to send texts, images and even voice notes. It only seeks permissions for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microphone and camera to operate its features. The user has to pay to download this app. (Only on iOS).

Signal Offline Messenger

It is a Wi-Fi direct based secure messaging app. With this app, one can communicate without the Internet or local network in a range of up to 100 metres. The app has options to make calls, video calls, send text messages or multimedia messages with internet and SMSes offline for free. The app also features an option to send disappearing messages; messages that will be deleted after a set period.


Though it requires an Internet connection to activate the app the first time you open it, it works offline and can be used even during times of natural disasters. It makes use of Bluetooth to send messages within a 100-metre radius. You can connect with multiple people by creating a Wi-Fi signal and also send broadcast messages to anybody in your vicinity, even if they are not on your contact list.


One of the most reliable systems, it is pretty common among activists and journalists. In the case of Internet shutdown, it uses Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It does not depend on a central server and can sync messages between phone devices. If the internet’s up, Briar can sync via the Tor network, protecting users and their relationships from surveillance. (Only on Android).


A resource to create quick web pages without Internet. The service can also be used to collate information at one place for easy access in areas with a weaker data connection. It also allows links to be directly shared on Twitter.


Keeps all your social data live entirely on your phone. This way, even when you’re offline, you can scroll, read anything, and even write posts and like content. Once
online, it syncs the latest updates directly with friends’ phones.

Twitter via SMS

In case the internet is shut down but mobile services are active, Twitter users can use post their tweets via SMS.

It can be done by linking your mobile number to your Twitter account and then sending the text message to the Twitter code (9248948837 in India).

Max Internet shutdowns happen in India

India has seen the most number of Internet shutdowns in the world so far this year. The internet has been shut down 95 times in India so far this year, according to the Internet Shutdown Tracker, a portal which tracks such incidents across the country. In Kashmir, broadband and mobile data services have been blocked for more than four months.

India also saw the world’s highest number of shutdowns in 2018 with 134 reported incidents; which made for 67 per cent of the global shutdowns that year. The second-highest country on the list was Pakistan - which saw 12 shutdowns last year.

(Published 20 December 2019, 12:27 IST)

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