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Egypt 'hijacks' Vodafone network

Feb 03 2011 15:50 AP

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London - Mobile operator Vodafone on Thursday accused the Egyptian authorities of using its network to send pro-government text messages to its subscribers, without clear attribution.

"The current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable," it said.

Vodafone said the Egyptian authorities had instructed the mobile networks of Mobinil, Etisalat and Vodafone to send messages to the people of Egypt and had been doing so since the protests broke out against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-rule.

One text message sent on February 2 and seen by Reuters announced the location and timing for a mass demonstration to support Mubarak.

Vodafone had earlier said text message services had been disabled in Egypt at the government's request but a source familiar with the situation told Reuters the authorities had ordered Vodafone to switch the network back on, just long enough to send the messages.

"We have made clear that all messages should be transparent and clearly attributable to the originator.

These messages are not scripted by any of the mobile network operators and we do not have the ability to respond to the authorities on their content," Vodafone said.

Telecoms carrier Vodafone, the world's biggest mobile operator by revenue, was told to switch off its network in Egypt by the government last week after the protests broke out.

Vodafone Chief Executive Vittorio Colao told reporters on Thursday that voice calls had been switched off for 24 hours, that data services which allow consumers to access the Internet had been switched back on on Wednesday, but that text messages were still down.

A spokesperson also said that one engineer who had been working on the network to keep services running had been seriously injured and another engineer is missing.

egypt riots  |  egypt  |  vodafone

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