A group of Egyptian activists have launched a campaign targeting the high cost of poor internet service in Egypt. The campaign, which goes by the hashtag #InternetRevolution (Arabic: #ثورة_الانترنت) tackles what it views as the deception of internet companies that are trying to con internet users into believing they have better internet than they actually do. Internet companies, they claim, have mocked clients with their low speed and high prices for too long.
Having had enough, the group—led by Ahmed Abd El-Naby—decided to launch the campaign on Facebook and on Twitter to raise awareness on the 7th of December 2013. With over 356,000 Facebook followers on the campaign page, the initiative gathered the pledge of thousands of Egyptians who will refuse to pay their monthly internet subscription. This, Abd El-Naby hopes, will put enough pressure on internet service providers to make a difference.
The campaign started in response to rising prices manipulated by telecommunication companies. For example, an internet speed of 512 kbps costs 95 pounds ($14). An important example given on the Facebook page is that of Morocco. Morocco has a similar infrastructure to Egypt and yet the lowest available speed is 4 MB at a price equivalent to 84LE ($12) whereas Egypt’s is at only 0.5 MB for 95LE ($13.6). Another focus of the campaign is to cancel the so-called “Fair Usage Policy,” which caps high internet speed. The policy was first announced in 2007 and was met with protests. Internet companies had then declared that they cancelled it despite evidence of the contrary. Even worse, activists are accusing companies of not having the infrastructure to accommodate the high number of users and are accusing the Egyptian government of monopolizing landline internet service through Telecom Egypt. This, they claim, in addition to weak customer service due to the absence of government channels makes the situation unbearable.
Finally, February the 20th proved to be a first step by the campaign to achieving its goals when it was announced that the National Telecom Regularity Authority (NTRA) had met with internet service providers to “discuss the quality of their services and methods of improving their efficiency over the short and long term.”
For our Arabic coverage of this story, check out Mohamad Taher’s article.