What's New On Tom's Travel Blog?

Flickr has been improved! Almost all photos on this blog come from my Flickr Photostream. You can now go directly to a page that shows all of my Flickr photo sets by following this link. It's the easiest way to navigate in my on-line photos.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Will My iPad Work in Egypt - Part 2

I published a post about using an iPad in Egypt to this blog about two years ago.  It's time for an update.

The answer is still "yes," but you may not be totally happy with the performance.  (That answer of yes assumes you bought the GSM network version and not a CDMA-only version.  That is, AT&T and not Verizon in regular English.)  You can skip to the last paragraph if "how well does it work" is what you are interested in.  But, let's do the whole story.  Here is how you connect up:

On our second day in Cairo we headed over to Maadi and the City Centre Mall.  If you are a novice at Cairo, just say "Maadi  -  Carrefour" to a taxi driver and he will get you there.  Pronounce it "maw oddy -- car 4," that's close enough.  Be sure to bring your iPad and your passport.  Once you reach the mall, you will be able to work in English.

I'd previously had very good service from the large Etisalat booth in City Centre.  Etisalat is one of the three cellular companies here and apparently has the best 3G network judging from the people I see using it.  Much to our surprise, there was no Etisalat booth in its previous location.  We checked with the information booth at the center of the mall and were directed down to one end of the mall.  There, a much smaller booth was staffed by a single worker.

I explained that I needed two 3G connections - a new sim for my iPad and a "stick modem" for my computer.  We took care of the iPad first.  The sim costs 15 Egyptian pounds and the maximum data plan is 150 pounds per month.  Buy the maximum.  The worker prepared the sim and then asked, "do you have your pin?"

I didn't get it immediately, but he was asking for my "iPad Metal Sim Tray Eject KEY Tool" Apple's dumbest idea of all time.
iPad-sim copy

Worse yet, he didn't have a paper clip and neither did I.  The good news was that there is an Apple iStore in the mall that would install it for me.

And one more piece of bad news.  They were out of "stick modems" and wouldn't have any for another week.

The iStore wasn't terribly busy.  They quickly installed and tested the sim card for me at no charge as you would expect from an Apple Store - probably Apple's best idea!

A couple of hours later, as we were leaving at the other end of the mall, we found a second Etisalat booth.  And, of course, they did have stick modems.  But only in pink.  Did booth 1 not know about booth 2's stock?  Was the first salesperson ashamed to offer me a pink one?  It's another Egyptian mystery.  But here is my total collection of old and new modems.

Now, back to the original subject of the post.  The 3G network appears to be over-sold or at least over-utilized, at least in our neighborhood.  For an early riser, response time on the network is excellent throughout the morning.  Around noon things slow down.  And I can pretty much tell when "school is out" and "dad is home."  Things are very s-l-o-w throughout the evening and night with response picking up around 2:00 a.m.  Much of the evening time, I'd call it unusable with several minutes required to refresh even a modest-sized webpage.  And uploading photos?  Forget it until morning.

UPDATE: 1/23/2013
Linda was browsing some images on Google this evening and received a message, "You are seeing the basic version because we think your Internet connection is slow"

Well, I guess that makes two of us! 

No comments: