Let me start by this, I am not your typical Internet user, to me the Internet is my work. Ever since I started masrawy.com which was the first Egyptian general interest portal, I have been an Internet addict so I had to follow it with mashy.com on the day that my non-compete agreement that I signed with the buyers of masrawy.com expired. I tried to work in other fields but can not, and this has resulted in me wanting to spend my time developing web sites and that is what me and my team proudly does at El Motaheda Web. My Internet addiction is so deep that I always need a plan B ( actually I also have a plan C ). My main source of Internet at home is a DSL and for reasons that might be put in another blog post DSL kicks 3G in nearly each and every thing except portability. My use for 3G is mainly for when I am mobile which I am not a lot due to health issues dealing primarily with personal mobility or for when my DSL is down.
The first thing is I have tried all of Egypt’s 3g Internet providers, Etisalat, Mobinil and Vodafone and have tried them a lot and under different scenarios and locations. To sum it up all of them offer nearly the same quality. To put it in more words, each and every operator will give you different speeds at different times, but more importantly they will give you different speeds in different places. The issue of signal strength is the real problem with 3G, and none of the operators is strong enough to have great signal everywhere and honestly nearly no network in the world will be able to do that. That is a fundamental problem with wireless and to a lesser degree even ADSL and phone lines.
So really you can not choose Mobinil over Etisalat or Vodafone or any one over the other in terms of 3G and Internet quality. What you can do is if you use 3G in certain locations a lot is to choose the one that has the nearest tower or strongest signal to the locations you frequent, but when you move out of these locations it will always be a hit and miss of which is better.
One note though is that vodafone closes VPN traffic, while this is not important to most people it could be important for corporate customers that need VPN to access company data on the run, vodafone in that case forces you to use its own VPN products which to me is not a cool idea.
Now since they all are the same, it boils to which has the best offer?
Well currently if you are a heavy user Mobinil has the best 3G Internet offer in Egypt by far. For 200LE you get 15 Gigabytes of transfer and if you manage to finish that the price of an extra Gigabyte is 20LE.
Their offer is on this page
Now compare that to the highest end 3G Internet package in in Vodafone and you get a totally different picture 250LE only buys you 10 Gigs, well it is called unlimited but the fair usage cuts you off the 3G speeds at 10 Gigs this makes it nearly twice as expensive per Gigabyte than the Mobinil offering. Moreover the addon is for 30LE per Gig or 50% higher than Mobinil.
You can look at their plans here but keep in mind that you have to look at the bottom of the page for the fair use of every package.
The Etisalat 3G Interenet plans are not for the high end user like me, their entry level plan is cool at 25LE per month you get 2 Gig fair usage FOR BROWSING AND EMAIL ONLY, ie not for downloads or videos, for that you get only 400Gigs per month or like 30 minutes of youtube 🙁 still the recharging fees are good at only 60LE per 4 gigs but that is a promotion and the normal price is 60LE for 2 Gigs. So when the promotion is over the entry level from mobinil will a bit more competitive since it gives you 1 Gig for 20LE and the extensions cost the same 1Gig for 20LE.
Overall Etisalat seems to rely more on continual or near continual promotions and Mobinil on stable low prices. Vodafone is not really trying hard to be competitive but the difference may not be that big for existing customers to switch.