Campaign to improve internet speeds in Egypt

Marina Barsoum , Sunday 9 Mar 2014

300,000 people join Facebook campaign to improve internet services in Egypt; Egypt Telecom says new fibre optic cables should bring improvements

Internet Revolution page encouraging people to pay the internet bills by coins (Photo: Courtesy of Internet Revolution Facebook Page)

A group of young people have launched a campaign to improve the speed and lower the cost of using the internet in Egypt.

"It all started when I saw a video by Omar Wahid, the admin of a Facebook page for gamers, who explained the poor state of internet services in Egypt," said Ahmed Abdel-Naby, who launched 'Internet Rev. Egypt' on 7 December last year.

Abdel-Naby created the page after comparing the speed and cost of internet services in Egypt with other countries.

The campaign has resonated with many people and the page already has more than 300,000 likes.

"We want quicker internet speed, lower prices for broadband and mobile internet service, and better customer service," he said.

But despite the interest the campaign has generated, no officials have been in contact with its organisers.

The National Telecom Regulatory Authorities (NTRA) recently met with all the internet service companies in Egypt to discuss the quality of their service, an official at the authority said.

They discussed the short and long term projects necessary to improve internet services in the country.

The official said internet prices are the regulator's responsibility, but the quality of the service should be guaranteed by the service providers. 

In Egypt, there are around 220 internet service providers that are mainly dominated by four companies.

Ookla, the global leader in broadband testing and web-based network diagnostic applications, produced a map comparing prices in US dollars of a megabyte per second and broadband internet speeds around the world.

Ahram Online has used the study to show the difference in prices and speeds in various countries.

According to the study, the average internet speed in Egypt is 2.22 megabytes per second at a cost of $18.58 per megabyte.

There are 38.75 million internet users in Egypt

All data is an average of price and speed per month in the given countries taken from a study on the internet made in Feb. 2014 by Ookla, the global leader in broadband testing and web-based network diagnostic applications

In an interview with Ontv, Telecom Egypt executive director Mohamed El-Nawawy said his firm was working to improve internet speeds in Egypt.

"We have been trying to change the internet cables to fibre optics that will transmit the internet at a much higher speed.

"In Egypt we have 18 million residences, our company is able to reach seven million, and by 2015 we will have completed the project for 50 percent of the residences we are able to reach," explained El-Nawawy.

Internet services are a crucial issue, he added, and promised his firm was doing all it can to provide a better service.

The campaign has received support from some prominent names, including Amr Helmy, a professor of electronic engineering. 

"Internet speed in Egypt is slow in comparison with other countries, I can see why these young people are complaining," Helmy said.

Internet cables in Egypt are very old and their capacity is low, he noted.

Helmy added: "Telecom Egypt's project will definitely increase capacity, thus the internet speed will increase."

Communication Minister Atef Helmy praised the campaign during an interview Sky News Al-Arabyia last month.

Meanwhile, the campaign has called on Egyptians to start paying their internet bills in small change, and asked people to call the NTRA to complain about poor service.    

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