Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Vodafone: Texting Still Down in Egypt, Except for Government Propaganda

The Internet may be back up in Egypt, but wireless phone customers using Vodafone in that country are still unable to send text messages, the company said today.

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said that text messaging was still not working in Egypt because the government there hasn’t authorized turning it back on. He said the company is lobbying authorities there to allow texting to start back up. The company is also facing network problems because its technicians can’t travel safely and some antennas have been damaged.

The company also said in a statement that since the protests began it has been forced to send pro-government text messages to customers. Egyptian emergency laws required it to allow the government to send scripted text messages. The company said it had no right under the law to change the messages.

“Vodafone Group has protested to the authorities that the current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable….We have made clear that all messages should be transparent and clearly attributable to the originator,” the company said.

While we’re on the topic of Egypt, I heard once again from my friend Abdalla in Cairo, who witnessed the violence in Tahrir Square. His phone from another country is still able for some reason to send text messages. A little after 11:00 ET last night I received this:

“It’s 6am and the standoff continues in the Tahrir Square. The numbers are now smaller especially among the pro-Mubarak camp. But it stopped being anything more than a vicious street battle where each side is staking turf. They can’t keep this on forever since its too exhausting. The army was firing in the air an hour ago, perhaps to get the crowd to leave. I expect the number of protesters in the square today to be smaller than yesterday, but confrontations to be less violent.”

Earlier he had sent this:

It’s 11pm and intense street battles in Tahrir Square continue. Hopefully it all ends by Friday.

I asked: What happens Friday? He answered:

There is going to be another round of huge street demonstrations after Friday noon prayers throughout Egypt. If Mubarak does not step down by then, I expect these protests will be the largest Egypt has ever witnessed.

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