By Rana Muhammad Taha
Calls for boycotting Egypt’s mobile service providers for five hours on Thursday in protest over the services’ “poor quality” are gaining momentum. Yet, it remains to be seen whether the calls would effectively be answered.
Internet Revolution Egypt, a two-year old virtual movement against internet service providers, has launched the calls for the boycott through a Facebook event.
The virtual movement is calling for a boycott from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The group said in its invitation that the boycott aims to see mobile service providers “lose money”, in protest over their “poor quality” and high prices.
“How long will we stand silent against the greed and abuse of internet and mobile service providers?” the invitation read.
The creators of the event could not be immediately reached for comment.
At the time of writing, more than 84 thousand Facebook users said they are attending the event.
However, the number has no significance whatsoever according to Hossam Saleh, business consultant and technology and internet expert.
Saleh, who believes the boycott will not be effective, criticised the calls, stressing that filing complaints to the state regulating authority about the poor quality of the service would have been a more efficient approach.
Saleh stressed that without a clear demand, the boycott could not be efficient.
The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, the state’s telecommunication regulator, was not immediately available for comment.
The ministry of communication and information technology is exerting effort to improve the quality of services, the minister meanwhile told the daily private-owned al-Shorouk.
Minister Khaled Negm reportedly said that the NTRA had issued new bylaws which would “deter …delinquent” mobile service providers.
A twitter hashtag was created for the boycott, describing it as a “million-man march.” At time of writing, the hashtag was the fourth most trending in Egypt and the top-trending in Cairo.
Shortly before the scheduled boycott, a group of twitter users announced they would turn off their phones in solidarity with the calls.
“Consider that you do not have your phone for five hours … it is in your best interest. Enough with the robbery,” one of the tweets read.
Another twitter user said: “The people abroad are no better than us. We aspire [to have] high-speed internet with good quality. Enough with the robbery.”
Yousra Yasser, sales coordinator, told Aswat Masriya she would probably take part in the boycott. Yasser said her service has been very weak recently and that when she got in touch with the customer services she could not reach a solution.
Nada Ekram, in-house lawyer, also said she would join the boycott due to the hike in prices of the services offered by her service provider.
At least four others reached by Aswat Masriya said they have not heard about the calls for boycott. Nouran Ehab, corporate specialist, said she would not have participated anyways.
“The mobile is very important to me to the extent that I can’t even switch it off for 30 minutes,” she told Aswat Masriya.
Egypt’s three mobile service providers, Vodafone, Mobinil and Etisalat, meanwhile did not directly address the calls for boycott.
Khaled Hegazy, external affairs and legal director for Vodafone Egypt, said that his company offers the best value for our customers.”
“We are focusing on our work,” Hegazy said, in response to a request for comment on the calls.
Mobile subscriptions in Egypt in March reached 95.99 million, according to a report by the ministry of communication.