Setting up Etisalat data plans in Egypt.

Tech Notes

NB: I preferred to use cash for setting all this up so that I didn't have my credit card involved. You can always recharge online or on the phone with a card but it requires an Etisalat Egypt account which I couldn't set up anyway.

  1. Buy a data only Etisalat sim card. Mine was brought in to a local supermarket as a special order and cost 100LE (regular ones seem to be about 25LE or so for Vodafone or Etisalat). If you need to do this then get a 50 or 100 LE recharge card at the same time. This will save you some typing
  2. Insert and activate the sim card. I didn't activate the card myself as I had a friendly supermarket owner who'd already done it for me. I imagine it's straight forward. He selected the most inexpensive plan (although that may be the default). 3LE/day for a small amount of data.NB: iPhone 4's and iPads have microsim cards which I couldn't buy. You can cut down a regular sim to the correct size. I didn't need to do that as my phone takes a full size sim.
  3. Buy a recharge scratch card and recharge the sim. If you are unsure use a low value one first (I used 10LE). You do this using the phone itself by dialling special codes. The card has instructions on it. Dial*858*[secretnumber]# You'll get an SMS in reply–helpfully in Arabic.
  4. At this point and at any point in the future you can check your balance by Texting a blank message to 555. It will return your balance in LE and your current data consumption. Unhelpfully it doesn't return what your limit is.
  5. Configure your phone to use the Etisalat Access Point (APN). On my Android these are the steps.
    1. Settings > Wireless & networks > Mobile networks > Access Point Names
    2. Press the hardware menu key and New APN.
    3. The defaults are mostly fine. Add the following.
      • Name: Etisalat Internet (although this is just FYI)
      • APN: Etisalat (note the capital E)
      • Authentication type: PAP (although its strange you need this if user/pass are blank)
      • APN type: default,supl (note the lack of space around the comma).

      (note: I don't use MMS so I haven't bothered configuring the MMS specific settings)

    4. Menu again and Save.
    5. Press the checkbox to the right of the APN you just created (Etisalat Internet) and then the hardware return key.
  6. I've got Enable always-on mobile data checked.
  7. Hardware return key again to Wireless & networks. Make sure Mobile network is checked.
  8. Restart the phone.
  9. After the reboot you should have HSPDA, 3G or Edge connectivity. On my phone Mobile network in Wireless & Networks shows connected. Check by googling something. Note: Egypt is potentially blocking access to some sites.
  10. Recharge your phone with recharge scratch cards to what you need for your plan. Same as above. Dial*858*[secretnumber]#
  11. Send a text to change your plan to something more useful. I selected the "Monthy Unlimited 99" (which isn't unlimited at all–its 99LE 2GB/month then speed limited after that). Therefore I sent a blank text to 5034. 49LE 500MB/mo is 5035. See the table below and refer to their website for their current plans.

At that point you should have a reasonable speed network at a reasonable cost. Turn on wireless hotspot on your iPhone OS4 or Android, or connect to your computer and create an Ad-Hoc network to share to your other devices. Remember to check your usage by texting to 555. To reset your plan after you've consumed your allocation text to 545. On the 99/mo plan that costs 30LE per GB. After consuming the allocation you are supposedly speed limited apart from their `freezone` (Google, facebook, Yahoo). What I noticed is that the freezone sites worked well and nothing else worked at all. Possibly 64kbps is just too slow these days.


You can find shortcuts on the Etisalat website in a hidden section at the bottom of this page. 555 Account balance 545 Reset usage (requires credit) 553 Speed plus (for 19/99/mo plan) *

PlansPlan namePlan feeMB incl.ResetSpeedShort codeMonthly Unlimited 1919 LE/month110 MB60 MB for 10 LE0.5Mbps*5032Monthly Unlimited 4949 LE/month500 MB250 MB for 20LE7Mbps5035Monthly Unlimited 9999 LE/month2 GB1 GB for 30 LE7Mbps*5034Monthly Unlimited 149149 LE/month6 GB1 GB for 30 LE7Mbps5037Monthly Unlimited 249249 LE/month10 GB1 GB for 30 LE21Mbps5036

* While writing this post I noticed that the 99LE/mo plan is speed limited to 512Kbps (although I expect that it's actually a typo and should be the 19/mo plan). To uncap that to 7.2Mbps you need to text to 553 which costs 20LE/mo. This would make the 149LE/mo plan much more attractive if accurate.


Forum post with correct settings Etisalat pages with plans and shortcodes,1&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&siteAlias=etisalat&sitePath=Etisalat_Portal_En&kpAlias=smartnet&pageAlias=internet_rateplans