So if I was in Egypt right now, and I needed help… where would you be, Vodafone?

It’s a good few hundred quid a month I pay to Vodafone for services here in the United Kingdom.

One would imagine that if I was working in Egypt, my Vodafone UK handsets would naturally roam on to Vodafone Egypt. Right? I should expect that’s the preferred network.

Thus if I was in Egypt right now, I’d have no service.

Because Vodafone Egypt has bowed to the will of the Egyptian Government — and switched off it’s network.

I can’t tell you how I’d be feeling about Vodafone if this was the case.

My opinion of Big Red is vastly different today than it was yesterday. I know they have to play the corporate game there in Egypt but goodness me I view my personal communications as critical. Not optional. Not switch-off-able. Especially when I’m spunking around £3k a year for the privilege.

And despite my continual moans about the ridiculous cost of Vodafone [data] roaming, you’ll never ever find me demanding FREE roaming. I know the whole shebang does cost money. I’m happy to pay a premium for roaming. Not a crazy premium, mind, BUT nevertheless, a premium. Fundamentally, I expect to be delivered some kind of limited service wherever I am.

However I’m pretty disturbed at the possibility of arriving in a country and finding that Vodafone — a company with 343 million customers and a market capitalization of almost 93 billion dollars — has decided to switch it’s network off until further notice.

That, my dear Big Red, is not acceptable.

My hierarchy of needs when abroad is:

1. Connectivity
2. Cash
3. Food
4. Shelter

What next, Vodafone? Will I find NO SERVICE on my BlackBerry because students in Manchester have decided to go on a rampage? Or during the upcoming tax-avoidance day-of-action are we to expect Vodafone UK to switch things off for the day?

I am distinctly unimpressed at Vodafone’s actions.

The company’s group CEO, Vittorio Colao — the man I ultimately pay a few hundred quid a month to — is quoted in the Wall Street Journal explaining his actions thus:

Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said “Egyptian authorities” had asked the company to “turn down the network totally.” Mr. Colao said Vodafone determined that the request was legitimate under Egyptian law, and therefore complied with the request. “I hope” the decision will be reversed by Egypt “very soon,” Mr. Colao said, in comments to a Davos session on mobile devices.

Fine. Fine. Fine. Ok I buy that. I get it. I reluctantly have to agree. If you’re running a company in Egypt, under Egyptian law then, yes, you have no choice.


By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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