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Mobile phone service restored in Egypt -- for now

Mobile phone service restored in Egypt -- for now

Vodafone warned that the government has the power to shut off service if it wants to

Vodafone and France Telecom say mobile phone service was restored in Egypt on Saturday as demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak's government continued across the country on Monday.

Vodafone said there were no legal or practical options to avoid the demands of the Egyptian government, which has the ability to disrupt service on its own.

"We would like to make it clear that the authorities in Egypt have the technical capability to close our network, and if they had done so it would have taken much longer to restore services to our customers," according to a statement published on its website.

The company's other priority was "the safety of our employees, and any actions we take in Egypt will be judged in light of their continuing well-being."

Vodafone issued a statement on Friday saying that all mobile operators had been ordered to shut down servers in some areas and that it was obligated under law to comply.

France Telecom, which has a joint venture with Orascom that runs the Mobinil network in Egypt, said it regretted that it was required to shut down its network on Thursday night but that service was up again on Saturday, according to a spokesman.

The spokesman said that about 20 expatriate employees and their families were being pulled out of Egypt as a precautionary security measure. It has about 4,800 employees in the country.

Mobinil had about 26 million subscribers in Egypt at the end of 2009.

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