By Mohamed Alaa Eldin
The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) is gearing to provide private telecommunications firms with compensation for damaged they incurred due to Telecom Egypt’s (TE) replacement of copper cables with fibre optic ones nationwide.
Hisham El-Alaily, head of the NTRA, said that the authority requested from Internet service providers to provide documents proving the damage they incurred due to the copper cable replacement process, in order to look into the means for compensation.
Compensation will occur either through redirecting customer who turned to TE due to the replacement process, or through financial reimbursement of losses.
El-Alaily told Daily News Egypt that the NTRA is a supervisory, regulatory and arbitration authority, which gives it the right to call upon TE to compensate other Internet service providers if they are officially proven to be affected by the upgrading of the infrastructure carried out by TE.
El-Alaily denounced the mistakes made by TE as a result of replacing copper cables with fibre optic cables, asserting that there are meetings constantly held with all operators in the market in order to solve this problem.
Since last year, TE has been upgrading the infrastructure by replacing copper cables with fibre optic cables, reaching 2m homes. The new goal is to reach 4m homes by the end of 2015.
Due to technical problems in the replacement process, customers’ landlines were changed and fixed Internet services were cut off, whereby only TE Data, owned by TE, was willing to replace cables, which led to major losses to other providers.
Meanwhile, Khaled Hegazy, head of foreign relations at Vodafone, said that his company lost numerous customers for the fixed Internet service due to the replacement process, refusing to disclose the size of the loss. He demanded that the NTRA quickly organise the communications infrastructure and find a solution for the problem.
The NTRA met with Internet service providers in Egypt a few weeks ago in order to reach solutions between TE and competing companies to connect customers through multi-service access node (MSAN) cabinets. The government-owned company is carrying out 80% of the plan to provide four million customers with high-speed Internet through the replacement of cables, making it difficult for Internet service providers to connect to TE Data’s MSAN cabinets, thereby causing the companies to lose customers daily.
Fadi Jundi, President and CEO of NOOR Internet Service, said that his company is facing the least damage due to its limited number of customers in the sector of individual users, noting that mechanisms must be found in order to get out of this crisis. He demanded that TE develop mechanisms to compensate Internet providers for the customers they have lost.
LinkDSL announced that it lost 40,000 customers in the process carried out by TE to replace copper cables with fibre optic cables and change phone numbers, adding that thousands of customers left the company and contracted with TE Data after they lost their Internet service amid the process.