Hesham El-Alaily, executive president of Egypt’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA), has reportedly been assigned to negotiate with those operators in the country providing fixed broadband services over the introduction of low-cost tariffs for connections offering downlink speeds of 1Mbps and 2Mbps. According to the Daily News Egypt, last month Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Khaled Negm met with members of Internet Revolution Egypt (IRE), a cyber-protest group which is seeking to improve the quality of internet services in the country. With the group having set out a number of ‘demands’, these were said to have included reducing prices, increasing speeds to start with a minimum 1Mbps, up from the current entry-level 512kbps connections, and the reconsideration of the fair usage policy.
Meanwhile, in separate but related news, the NTRA is reportedly examining whether it should provide privately-owned operators with compensation for damages incurred as a result of state-owned Telecom Egypt’s replacement of copper cables with fibre across the country. Daily News Egypt claims that the NTRA has requested that internet service providers (ISPs) provide documentation proving the damages incurred as a result of the copper cable replacement process in order to examine the means of possible compensation. Due to technical problems in the line replacement process, it is understood that customers’ landlines were changed and broadband services cut off as a result, whereby only Telecom Egypt subsidiary TE Data was willing to reconnect customers, meaning subscriber losses for private players in the sector. Khaled Hegazy, head of foreign relations at Vodafone Egypt, was cited as saying that his company lost numerous customers due to the line replacement process, though he stopped short of disclosing the exact number of users lost. LinkDSL however confirmed it had shed some 40,000 broadband subscribers as a direct result of Telecom Egypt’s copper cable replacement programme, with the former claiming many customers had opted to move to the incumbent after their existing internet service was disconnected.