Just read this off CNET. Iran is blocking GMail in advance of the demonstrations set for Thursday. But just GMail? Why not Yahoo? Or Hotmail? Or other email systems? I would guess they figure cutting just one will disrupt enough communications to accomplish there goal. I’m also sure Twitter and Facebook will get blocked as well as SMS service a bit before and after thursday.. Now their excuse is that they are going to build a national email service. First off, if they do I’m signing up! I’ll never use it, but I want the email address.
But lets think about this for a second. If suddenly, without warning, my email was cut off, AND if that was my primary, or worse, only email system. Then that means I lost all of my messages AND contact information. To get around the problem you can access other systems that read in your email from Gmail and still function. But what are you really accomplishing here but reinforcing the fact that you do not trust your own population. I can imagine a few business people that rely on gmail being pretty pissed off losing past emails and contact information.
This will be interesting to watch. I will guess most people will have found a workaround before thursday; and I also do not imagine a national system will be up anytime soon.
As for getting to GMail without using gmail, there are a number of solution depending on how its blocked. For example, if mail.google.com is NOT blocked, you can at least read you email via RSS from this link.
You can also use a service like NetVibes or other feed readers. As for sending? If your on a mac, perhaps something like mailplane which SEEMS to work outside of the web client.