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Egyptian telecoms ready to band together to expand coverage in Gaza

Telecoms Vodafone Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and Orange Egypt expressed their readiness to expand their coverage to the embattled strip on Saturday

By: Business Today Egypt

Sun, Oct. 29, 2023

Telecom companies operating in Egypt revealed that they are prepared to provide telecommunications services to residents of the Gaza Strip after the loss of connectivity across the area.  

Gaza witnessed a total blackout, with all internet and phone communications severed, since Friday as Israeli troops advanced into the northern part of the Strip.

Internet watchdog Netblocks, one of the first organizations to reveal that Gaza’s communications were cut off, revealed that internet connectivity was gradually restored on the strip on Sunday at around 6 AM Cairo Time.

Telecoms Vodafone Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and Orange Egypt expressed their readiness to expand their coverage to the embattled strip on Saturday.

An official from Vodafone Egypt shared in a video interview that the company is prepared to send mobile cell towers to the Egyptian border city of Rafah. The towers are capable of covering up to 10km within the Strip if operated at maximum power, he said.

However, the company will not move forward without coordination between Egypt and Palestinian parties, the official explained, adding that Vodafone has prepared 5 mobile towers ready to be delivered to the border.

Local media cited a source within Etisalat Misr, sharing that the company is keen on offering its services to those in the Strip through existing towers and mobile towers. The source clarified that Etisalat is in contact with Egypt’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to coordinate and obtain any required approvals.

A separate media report revealed that Orange Egypt is also coordinating with the NTRA on boosting its coverage in Rafah to stretch to the Gaza Strip.

As news broke on Friday’s mass communications cutoff, social media has been overwhelmed with calls for Egyptian network providers to extend their coverage to Gaza. International aid groups have shared concerns, stating that they have been unable to communicate with teams in the area. 

Around only 80 trucks carrying humanitarian aid crossed into Gaza from Rafah in the past week, with deliveries interrupted by Saturday’s blackout, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. No trucks were passed through the border on Saturday, with the agency sharing that it was “not able to communicate with the different parties to coordinate the passage of the convoy”.