Telecom Egypt expands network capacity
The state-owned telephone giant, Telecom Egypt (TE), recently installed new digital switching exchanges in 19 districts across Egypt. The new systems expand the country’s network capacity by another 526,430 telephone lines, of which 25 percent have already been activated, while the remaining lines are to be operated within days. Telecom Egypt Chief Executive Aqil Bashir said that the installed operators would help to shorten the waiting list for telephone applicants, reported Al-Ahram.
The company also plans to adjust call tariffs over the next few months, implementing a uniform fee structure throughout the country, disclosed Minister of Telecommunication and Information Ahmed Nadheef. At present, inhabitants of rural areas pay 10 kershes for a 90-second telephone call, while in urban centers the same amount is paid for a six-minute long telephone call. The minister added that the phone costs would be calculated on the basis of the call time, reported Al-Sharq Al-Awsat .
There is only a 1.8 percent telephone penetration rate in the rural areas, as compared to 12 percent in the cities. In a bid to close this gap, the government launched a fourth Five-Year Plan in 1997, focused on raising the penetration rate from an overall 4.8 percent to eight percent
To achieve this goal, TE planed to add one million telephone lines each year until 2002, at an annual cost of one billion dollars. In the framework of this program, the number of local telephone lines has so far risen to 8.3 million, up from 6.4 million lines in 1999. The project is self-financed by TE and the National Bank of Egypt. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) financed the supply and construction of additional telephone lines, cables, switches, and network operation centers at a cost of $300 million.
TE started collecting phone bills via the Internet last month, as part of an e-government initiative. The online payment option is the product of cooperation between TE, Misr Bank, Visa International and MasterCard, reported Middle East Times . — (menareport.com)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)