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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Will My iPad Work in Egypt - Part 3

(Note regular readers may want to skip this "techie" post.  If terms like LTE, SIM, 3G and 4G don't get your heart pounding, this one's not for you!)

I published a post on this blog five years ago titled, "Will My iPad Work in Egypt?"  It remains one of my "most Googled posts."  But it is time for an update:  Will my iPad Air 2 work in Egypt?  Short answer, "yes."

I made a serious mistake last summer with Linda's iPad 2.  After having problems with a few of her apps, I upgraded the operating system to IOS 8.  This effectively converted her favorite machine into a boat anchor.  Well, that's the old term from the 1970s.  In modern terminology, it "bricked" it.  You probably get the picture.  Even after rounding off the corners of the brick with subsequent upgrades to IOS 8.2 and IOS 9, I could barely stand the cries of anguish - fortunately, Santa Claus brought her a brand new iPad Air 2.

If you are reading this and are confused about the six different generations of the standard sized iPad there is a decent comparison of them here.  The biggest technology difference in the latest model, the "iPad Air 2," is a cellular data connection that comes with a lot of capability and flexibility.  But will it work on Egypt's old 3G networks?  It was time to find out.

We headed down to the local Vodafone store to get a chip for the iPad and another for the USB stick modem on my laptop.

There was only one person working the counter and we were fourth in line.  Remember that you will need your passport with currently valid visa to purchase a new phone line.  This year, I remembered to bring the Apple Sim tool to extract the current Sim.
iPad-sim copy

Note that the Ipad Air 2 uses the smaller "nano" sim rather than the "micro" sim on the old iPad 2.  And, by the way, why hasn't Apple produced a decent slide-out sim carrier instead of this silly paperclip poker that makes it feel like you are destroying the device?

The Vodafone sim slipped right in and I was instantly connected to the network.  I didn't even need to open the "settings" screen.

Nice work by both vendors on that count.

It only took about a half hour to purchase both new lines.  As always, I was glad I wasn't behind me in line.

This technology currently only yields a 3G connection, but Vodafone is expecting to begin LTE service sometime this quarter.  More on that can be found here from the frustrated user's point of view:
The main reason may be that the 3 networks haven’t launched 4G yet is the country’s & users’ ecosystem! most the customers have smart phones that don’t support 4G yet. Of course to a big chunk of the customer base in Egypt smartphones are an expensive piece of technology and can’t really afford to upgrade their mobiles...
And from the vendors' and Egyptian government's optimistic point of view:
Egypt will also begin offering 4G mobile services in the first quarter of 2016 and allow Telecom Egypt, the country's landline monopoly, to become the country's fourth mobile provider, the minister said. ...

O yes, what does data service cost?  18 EGP for the line - about $2.50 and then
25 EGP for 1.5 gigabytes    -  $3.00
60 EGP for 3.5 gigabytes    -  $7.50
100 EGP for 7.0 gigabytes  -  $12.50

Compare to U.S. rates:


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