Egyptian internet connections can be frustratingly slow at times, but USB modems are a popular, fast and flexible alternative to traditional wired or wireless connections.
Telecom Egypt’s TE Data (LINK) is the main provider of wired and wireless internet connections in Egypt.
In order to arrange to have an internet connection installed in your home or flat, contact TE and arrange an appointment for the installation of a connection of the desired capacity. Do not expect this to occur immediately, and do not be surprised to find that installation requires multiple appointments. The time it takes for a connection to be installed can range from several days to several weeks. Make sure to have your passport to hand when doing so.
Egypt’s mobile phone operators offer USB modems that allow you to access the internet from anywhere, so long as you are within the provider’s mobile service area. They are available on both a pre-paid and monthly plan basis, and billing is generally done according to the amount of data sent. You may credit a few hundred megabytes or several gigabytes to your account, for example, and then pay again when you run out.
Conversely, you can sign up for an “unlimited plan” that will give you several gigabytes of data per month at high speed, and then drastically reduce your connection speed (while still providing you with access) if you go over that limit.
The chief advantages of a USB modem are a generally fast connection speed and internet access anywhere you can take a laptop. USB modems are less-than-ideal if you have multiple, frequent internet users under the same roof, however, because it must be physically plugged into the computer’s USB port, a USB modem can only provide access to one user at a time.
You can purchase a USB modem from any of the mobile providers. Enter your store of choice and a salesperson will walk you through the process. As usual, have your passport with you in case someone requests to see it during the transaction.
Egyptian Internet cafes
There are internet cafes in major cities such as Cairo and Alexandria. These generally offer about an hour of internet access for a few Egyptian pounds.
Internet cafes are excellent options for cheap access in a jam, or to kill time while travelling. They are less-than-ideal as a long-term source of internet access, however, as privacy is limited and your information is not necessarily secure. It is not a particularly good idea to access your bank account from a crowded internet café if you can at all avoid it.
Up-scale coffee shop chains such as Costa Coffee and the Coffee Bean also offer wireless access than can be purchased by the hour. It is more expensive than a traditional internet café but these coffee shops are generally cleaner and they offer the added bonus of readily-available coffee, smoothies and snacks. This can be a good option for a lazy couple of hours sending emails or doing a little work away from the office.
Ask a neighbour
A third option is to ask neighbours or even people in adjacent flats whether they have their own internet connection and whether you can pay them to use theirs. All it requires is for you to buy an Ethernet cable (1LE for 1 metre) and your set with a cheap connection.
There are 3 main mobile network providers in Egypt. Vodafone, Etsalat and Mobinil. To buy a sim card will cost you roughly 25LE and you’ll need I.D e.g. a passport.
If you’re taking your British mobile to Egypt make sure that you call your mobile network provider and find out whether it’s free for you to receive SMS messages. It will be very expensive to phone the UK from Egypt using your British sim card and likewise to receive calls.
Make sure to turn your voicemail off as some mobile networks such as o2 will charge you to use voicemail in Egypt (phone 0170 if you’re with o2 to turn off your voicemail and 1750 to turn it back on).
Sending a text back to the UK from your Egyptian sim card will cost you roughly 1 LE. However for all services I would advise using Skype. With Skype you can buy credit and phone UK landlines (as well as other countries) for 1.4p a minute and send SMS messages for roughly 5p.
There are also international call cards available from sites such as http://justlanded.cloncom.com/
Main Public Telephone Numbers
Fire dept 180
Electricity co 121
Gas co 129
Water co 125
Tourist Police 126
Emergency road service 0121110000
Railway info 25753555
Directory enquiries 140
Yellow pages: http://www.yellowpages.com.eg/