Telecommunications companies were ordered to cut services: Vodafone Egypt CEO

Adel El-Laqani, Thursday 24 Mar 2011

The head of Vodafone Egypt tells Ahram Online about orders made by security officers during the 25 January Revolution to cut data and voice communication services

Hatem Doweidar, Vodafone Egypt CEO, said that security officials met with mobile phone and internet service providers services when ordered in the coming days.

Vodafone Egypt is partly owned by public operator Telecom Egypt.

The first order, says Doweidar, came at noon time on 25 January when companies were asked to cut voice calls and text messages in specific areas around Cairo, especially Tahrir Square.

During the second meeting on 27 January, service providers were ordered to cut voice calls across four governorates — Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Mansoura. Starting 28 January, all internet services and Blackberry services were cut. At 9:30am on 29 January, providers were ordered to return voice services.

Doweidar said that Vodafone confirmed the order by making calls to other telecommunications companies. All calls were recorded, says Doweidar, adding that before returning the voice call service they got advice from the company’s legal administration to ensure that the request was legitimate.

Doweidar added that the company did not have any reason to cut the service unilaterally, and that they lost a lot of money in doing so. Cutting the mobile service, text message and internet service has cost the company LE50 million while the company had to offer LE20 million in compensation to their clients.

Doweidar added that the company also lost LE20-25 million due to damage to the company's strengthening transmission posts and distribution centres.

Vodafone is mulling over to suing the governement for these losses, but Doweidar says "the telecommunications law in Egypt is unclear and does not stipulate whether telecommunications companies can get compensation from the government for their losses", adding that whatever compensation they would get would not make up for the total losses they experienced.

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