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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Back to the Phones!

With our new landline installed and tested, it was time to look for a telephone.  We headed out to Al-Arish street where it has been reported that we will find a cheap phone.

Al-Arish, running between Pyramids and Faisal is one of our favorite shopping areas.


We approached Al Arish Street from the west and noticed quite a few merchants out in the streets near their stores hawking various clothing items.
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We were headed for the etiselat store (there are two, about a block apart) that has several models of handsets on display.
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We chose the genuine Victoria Al Mohandes model (made in China) for 85 EGP - a bit over ten dollars.

After returning to the apartment, we plugged it in and dialed our landline from our cellphones.  Everything worked well.  A couple of days later we heard a report that our ADSL connection had been made and soon we would be receiving our free modem/router.  Then someone tried to call us.  -  The phone didn't ring.  He called us on the mobile phone and asked if we were home. We were, indeed, home but now our landline phone doesn't ring.  We could still call out.

Egyptian Telecom naturally diagnosed the problem as being in the cheap Chinese phone while I figured it was something they did while connecting up the ADSL line.  I borrowed phones from a neighbor and a friend and we soon concluded that the phone company was wrong; those phones would not ring either.  Soon they fessed up that it was on the phone company's end.  We soon had the phone ringing again.

Now we just had to wait for a text message from TE Data on our mobile phone to say "come and pick up the router."  This was supposed to occur within "one to three weeks," although we had heard of reports of it taking up to three months.  (Egypt is loaded with reports and rumors.)

We got the text message a few days ago giving us the UserID and Password for the ADSL connection  and headed back to the Telecom Egypt Data central office with a friend.  We arrived when the office opened at 9:00 a.m. and got a number in the "F queue."
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Our actual number was F-003 (the 14 was from the previous visit) and we were called in quickly.  I had to sign a couple of papers and hand over another copy of my passport - that made three copies given to the company.

After paying three pounds to ransom the car from the "street guard" we headed home to hook things up.

I only had a "Quick Start" guide with no user manual.  I quickly made a stupid error and needed the default password to get into the router.  I should have guessed (Admin/Admin) but used my 3G connection to find the user manual online.  Soon everything was properly configured.  But - we had a "Power" light on, however, no "DSL" light.  Patient and knowledgeable friend to the rescue again.

Phone call to customer service - switch to help desk - try waiting - try powering it up again - repeat.

Much loud discussion - threats that the American will abandon Egyptian Telecom and go back to Vodafone - embarrassment to whole country, etc.  (I am interpreting here as best I can!)  Transferred to the next level of support.

It's magic!  The DSL light came on, followed by the Internet light.
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And as of now we have had five days of very uniform, very snappy performance.  Linda is very happy and friends who visit us can all connect to WiFi.  Life is good.

But not perfect.  Linda tried to sign on the Hennepin County Library site to download an e-book.  We can reach the site fine.  But click on "My Account" just gives this message.
And there is no problem if we try to connect via Vodafone.  So HCLB appears to be blocking connections from our landline.  It's always something.

Meanwhile, here is Linda talking on the phone while I surf the 'net.
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