Paid Internet access of some kind is available in almost every hotel. Most of the five-star hotels in Cairo have paid access in the rooms, though free Internet access is usually one of the privileges of booking an executive-floor room. In remote areas of the country, Internet access is typically only at Internet cafés.
Wi-Fi is becoming more prevalent in the better hotels, particularly in Cairo; it is usually free but generally exists only in the lobby and some public areas, rather than in your room. Most modern coffeehouses use Internet through a service provided by one of the mobile phone operators in Egypt. If you make a purchase, most places will give you a free scratch card for access, but you will need to input a local mobile phone number. There are dozens of Internet cafés in Cairo, and usually one or two in each of the major towns and resorts. Access prices vary from £E5 per hour in Internet cafés in the capital to £E30 per 30 minutes in hotels.
To call Egypt from the United States, dial 00, then the country code 20 and the local number.
Calling Within Egypt
To make a local call, you must dial the regional code plus the seven-digit or eight-digit number (Greater Cairo has eight-digit numbers). Directory assistance for calls within Egypt is 140; its operators are known to speak English well.
City codes within Egypt include: Cairo 02; Alexandria 03; Luxor 095; Aswan 097; Sharm El-Sheikh 069; and Hurghada 065.
Rates for calling within Egypt vary by the hotel, but local calls are sometimes only a few piastres per minute, unless you are calling from a five-star hotel, which charges significantly more, varying from one hotel to the next.
Calling Outside Egypt
From Egypt, just dial 00–1 plus the area code and number to call the United States or Canada. For the international operator, dial 120. It's cheaper to call after 8 pm in the evening.
The AT&T USA Direct and MCI calling cards can be used in Egypt. Simply dial the access number and follow the instructions. If you use a pay phone to call, you may require a coin or card deposit. Some hotels block the use of these numbers. If this is the case, try contacting the telephone company operator for a connection.
Phone cards, which are sold at gift shops and supermarkets, can usually give you considerable savings if you're calling the United States or Canada.
The mobile phone network is well established in Egypt. Vodafone, Mobinil, and Etisalat are the three major companies in Egypt, and they have offices all across the country. If you have a quad-band GSM phone, it will probably work in Egypt, but you can also bring an old phone from home (get the phone company to unlock the phone for you) and buy a SIM card once you get to Egypt so that you can receive calls and texts on a local number. Phones start at £E180, SIM cards cost around £E25, and you can buy top-up minutes from £E10 to £E200 at one time. To call internationally, the cost is £E1.99 per minute, but you might have to contact the provider first to get this price.
Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells GMS phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072; www.cellularabroad.com.
Mobal. Mobal rents mobiles and sells GSM phones (starting at $49) that will operate in 140 countries. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162; www.mobalrental.com.
Planet Fone. Planet Fone rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777; www.planetfone.com.