Thousands of Egyptians have pledged to not pay their monthly internet subscriptions starting Wednesday to protest poor service and high prices, in an effort to put “pressure” on internet service providers.
This protest is backed by the “Internet Revolution” initiative, a movement started 7 December that aims to organise internet users in an attempt to put “pressure” on service providers. The group hopes to increase speeds, reduce the price of internet access and restructure communication centres all over Egypt.
More than 356,000 Facebook users have liked initiative’s official page, and around 45,000 people joined a Facebook event set up on 17 February to organise the initiative’s actions. Ahmed Abd El-Naby, founder of Internet Revolution, said the campaign opted to escalate at this time because most internet users “usually” pay their monthly internet subscriptions at the end of the month, “so we planned that fewer people will pay this month,” he said.
The campaign also urged supporters to submit official complaints of poor internet service.
“Many users have already submitted their complaints on our Facebook page, but in order to be officially recognised, they will hand their complaints to the National Telecom Regulatory Authority,” Abd El-Naby said.
“This escalatory step will last for a week,” Abd El-Naby said. The initiative’s leaders are monitoring people’s interaction with the campaign to determine next steps if internet companies do not meet their demands.
One of the initiative’s demands is to cancel the Fair Usage Policy, which Abd El-Naby said is “secretly” applied by internet companies.
The policy, which caps high internet speed, was met with protests when it was announced in 2007, Abd El-Naby said. “Internet companies declared that they had halted it,” he said.
On 20 February, the National Telecom Regularity Authority (NTRA) met with internet service providers to discuss the quality of their services and methods of improving their efficiency over the short and long term.
Internet companies agreed to highlight the locations that suffer from low-speed service for NTRA and allow users to measure internet speed.
After observing an increase in complaints about poor internet service through its hotline or on social networks, NTRA called on internet service companies last Tuesday to review the quality of their services and to set fair internet prices.
The campaign has dozens of volunteers, who help the organisers collect documents to discover the “wrongdoings and false offers of giant internet companies”, Abd El-Naby said.
“We studied our demands technically; we know that what we are calling for can be achieved,” he said.