Communication and Internet in Egypt

This article has been translated from Russian language using an artificial intelligence-based translation algorithm. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the quality of the translation. You can read the original of this article in Russian here, and ask questions on the topic of our travel forum in English here.

Cellular communication and Internet in Egypt

It is absolutely impossible to imagine a modern tourist on vacation abroad without communication today, and Egypt is no exception. Access to mobile Internet, hotel WiFi and inexpensive calls on local SIM cards, all this works in Egypt. True, not as well as we would like, but in general you will not be left without communication.

If you are an active Internet user and you need to always be online, for example, for work, then it makes sense to buy a local SIM card so as not to go broke on expensive domestic roaming and not depend on capricious and not always working hotel Internet. If this is not essential, then you can do without hotel WiFi, although there are some nuances here, which we will discuss below. For voice calls, everything is a little more complicated, but there are also several options on how not to overpay for communication.

We will tell you about everything in detail:

How to call from Egypt and across the country

As for voice calls in Egypt, everything is a little complicated here. The fact is that VoIP technology is banned in the country, which means that making cheap voice calls home, such as from Southeast Asian countries, will not work from here. In theory, calls via Skype, WhatsApp, Viber and others messengers are also blocked, but we calmly made such calls via hotel WiFi, because, as they say, this ban is poorly respected. If you fail to make calls through instant messengers, then they can easily be replaced by voice messages.

But back to voice communication. In most cases, you can do without buying a local SIM card, but simply take advantage of the capabilities of your home mobile operator. If you need to make just a couple of calls to your family on vacation to tell them how you're doing, then you can not connect any options at all, but just make calls according to your tariff, then a minute of conversation will cost from 40 to 90 rubles, depending on the operator. In our experience, Tele2 is the cheapest in this case.

If you enable a special option for calls from abroad (we are not talking about packages), then the price will be lower. For example, for the same Tele2 for 5 rubles of subscription fee per day, the cost of a minute is reduced immediately to 5 rubles for all calls, it is very profitable. You can use the service packages, but then you will immediately be charged a large subscription fee per day, and a package of minutes and Internet is provided. But for calls, this option is not interesting at all and is not profitable, unless in emergency cases you need to talk a lot during one day.

If you need to receive and make a lot of calls for work, call local numbers in Egypt, for example, to order a taxi or excursions, or you just like to chat, then you can look towards buying a local SIM card. In this case, you will receive a package of Internet and minutes, but it will not be limited to action for one day. You can also buy a prepaid SIM card without an Internet package only for making international and domestic calls, and talk with payment every minute from 5 pounds per minute (approximately 0.11 rubles), but it is not much more profitable than a home operator with included options.

Roaming of a home mobile operator in Egypt

Roaming of a home mobile operator is the most unprofitable option for communication in Egypt, and therefore it should be used only if it's enough for you to make a couple of calls and you won't use the mobile Internet at all, or if you're just fabulously rich.

There are no tariffs with traffic or minutes of long-term use from Russian mobile operators. All tariffs are only with a daily subscription fee of 350 rubles and above. This means that you can't pay for roaming once and use it for the whole vacation, and the fee will be charged to you every day, even if you don't use the traffic or minutes included in the daily package.

Here is a guideline for roaming prices in Egypt from the big four Russian operators as of 2024, but keep in mind that they may change, so check before traveling:

Inernet-packages of Russian tour operators in roaming in Egypt
MTS Zabugorishche Beeline Megafon Tele2 Unlimited Internet abroad
Cost 450 rub/day 450 rub/day 599 rub/day 350 rubles/day
Traffic volume 1 GB, then the speed is 128 kb/s + a packet of minutes 1 GB, then the speed is 128 kb/s 1 GB, then the speed is 128 kb/s + a packet of minutes 600 MB, then the speed is 128 kb/s

Attention! Be careful about using a home (Russian) operator in Egypt. However, if you do not know how your tariff works, you can get into very large expenses. So, if you do not turn off the mobile Internet in your smartphone, then immediately after landing, it can receive instant messenger messages, download application updates, etc. And when you receive even the first byte of data, the cost of a foreign package can be debited from your account right away, and then debited every day even without your knowledge.

Also, at the first outgoing or incoming call, depending on the conditions of your tariff, the cost of the full package may be immediately charged. So if you don't know what to expect from your tariff, it's better to stop using it altogether and turn everything off, and for reliability, remove the SIM cards of the home operator altogether.

Buying a local SIM card in Egypt

There are four mobile operators in Egypt:

The largest of them are international Vodafone and Orange. Which of these four to choose for purchase, there is no fundamental difference in terms of quality and coverage area, since the networks use each other's capabilities to access subscribers to communications.

Therefore, when choosing, we advise you to focus primarily on the package and the cost of the services offered. Although, to be honest, all operators compete with each other and fight for customers, and therefore offer tariffs at comparable prices. As a result, your choice will most likely come down to which package of services is more suitable for you.

Be careful when choosing a tariff, if possible, read or ask the seller in more detail about its features. The fact is that the specified gigabytes of the Internet do not always correspond to honest gigabytes for access to the World Wide Web. For example, 10 gigabytes of traffic may be declared in the package, but a more detailed description indicates that half of the declared volume is "DATA SOCIAL", i.e. it works only with global social networks and instant messengers Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, i.e. in fact you will get half as much.

Another trick is marketing "SuperMB". With "SuperMB", traffic will be charged in the usual way only when accessing certain sites, and for all others it will be charged as 1 to 2, i.e. in fact, you will again get half the volume.

We will not give descriptions of individual packages for each tour operator, since they change often. If you wish, you can view the descriptions on the company's websites (links above), or choose the appropriate option right on the spot. Usually, for sale to tourists, this information is presented in English or Russian, so it's not difficult to figure it out. But for reference, the price of ready-made packages for tourists:

  • A SIM card with 46 GB of traffic from Etisalat costs $ 10.
  • A SIM card with "honest" traffic of 18 GB from Orange is 10 US dollars.
  • A 20 GB SIM card from Vodafone costs $10.

Each of the packages also includes minutes for calls. There are cheaper and less capacious packages, for example, for $ 5 and even cheaper. Usually a 10 GB package is enough for a rest period of 7-14 days with more than enough to be in touch in social networks, watch the news, follow the work, and even watch a few videos. If the Internet ends, you will be able to replenish the card again and activate another package.

And now about how and where to buy a SIM card in Egypt. It is best to do this at the airport at the counter in the arrivals hall, unless, of course, time allows you and you do not make the transfer bus to the hotel wait. The fact is that if you don't do it at the airport, then you may have to look for the nearest communication salon at the resort for a long time and far, because many hotels are located in remote places far from civilization. If you are sure that your vacation will take place near shopping areas or streets, then you can easily find a communication salon on the spot. The prices for SIM cards at the airport and in the salons at the resort are the same.

You can pay for a SIM card in Egyptian pounds, dollars or euros. In general, package prices are charged in pounds, but for tourists, prices are announced immediately in the currency, of course, rounding up in a more favorable direction for the seller. We have written more about the currency of Egypt here.

To issue a SIM card, you need a passport. It is best to insert it into the phone immediately upon purchase and ask the seller to activate the package and check the network operation.

The racks of mobile operators at the airport are open even at night

Wi-Fi in Egyptian hotels and public places

Wi-Fi in hotels in Egypt is not very good. In our experience of traveling to Egypt, it worked rather very badly than not very well. Usually WiFi does not work in the rooms and is available only in the hotel lobby or, much less often, by the pool. Therefore, all vacationers flock to the reception area to sit online, and then the speed drops or stops working altogether. And if you manage to "surf" more or less comfortably on the web, it's only in the morning hours. And by the way, in some hotels WiFi is paid: at the reception you need to pay $ 2-5, and you will be given a password for the entire stay.

In public places, for example, on beaches or on walking streets, Wi-Fi is not found at all. Sometimes it happens in cafes and restaurants, but not everywhere.

There is Internet at airports, but to connect to it you need to register by phone number with SMS and code entry. Moreover, only some time is given for free, for example, 30 or 60 minutes. However, no matter how much we tried to get an SMS code to the home operator's SIM card at the airport, we never received it. But maybe you'll have better luck.

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