Egypt will cut the cost of local leased lines for Internet service providers (ISPs) by up to 60 percent from October 1 in order to boost its fledgling new economy, communication minister Ahmed Nazif said.
"This will help companies and Internet service providers to provide cheaper Internet access," he told a Euromoney conference in Cairo.
Nazif said this would bring costs in line with international rates, part of a government-backed drive to make Egypt a regional information technology (IT) hub. He also announced progress in plans to set up purpose-built IT business parks, or "smart villages".
Nazif said the first such village would be built in Giza, near the Sixth of October city on the outskirts of Cairo, with plans for a second in Mansoura, 125 kilometers north of the capital, and a third in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria.
A visit by president Hosni Mubarak to the United States earlier this year helped to seal alliances with US IT firms such as Microsoft, IBM and Cisco in upgrading the IT component in Egypt's education systems.
Mubarak has issued a decree to allocate land for the Giza project and give the smart villages the status of new community areas with a 10-year tax break, Nazif said.
Newspapers reported that facilities would include business-oriented hotels, a convention center, restaurants, and financial services.
Nazif said building a fourth smart village in the southern city of Asyut was under discussion, adding that he hoped to repeat the model across Egypt.
The recently announced cost reductions will bring the rate of local leased ISP lines of 64 kilobytes per second down to 5,000 Egyptian liras ($1,200) a year from EL12,000 ($3,500).
Annual rates for speeds of two megabytes per second will be cut to EL30,000 from EL60,000 while the new tariffs for high-speed leased lines are EL200,000 ($55,000) annually for 34 mbps lines and EL400,000 annually for 155 mbps lines. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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