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GPS Capable Mobile Phones Banned in Egypt

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As more phones come with built in GPS capabilities, importing smartphones into Egypt is proving increasingly difficult thanks to local laws which restrict the use of GPS without a license.

"GPS is allowed in Egypt but you must have a license after getting approval from security authorities," Sherif Guinena, vice chairman of the National Telecommunication Regulator Agency (NTRA), told the Daily News Egypt newspaper.

Anyone importing GPS capable phones - or any device using GPS facilities - faces having not only the unauthorised devices confiscated, but the entire stock belonging to the retailer or wholesaler.

"There have been negotiations between us and the authorities to allow GPS commercial use but we didn't reach anything yet," added Mr. Guinena.

Despite the ban on GPS capable phones, people still smuggle them into the country and use them illegally without a license. The government not only has people ignoring the law, but it also loses the revenues from import taxes on phones. There are also a lot of commercial companies making use of GPS functionality - although they still need to acquire a license from the security authorities.

"Officially, any GPS-equipped device from Nokia is [barred] entry into the market," Dana Adnani, Nokia's market communication manager for North Africa and the Levant region told the American Chamber of Commerce. "The same goes for all companies manufacturing mobile phones with GPS technology." Nokia, along with other mobile manufacturers are now taking Egypt's government to court to try and overturn the ban on unlicensed use of GPS.

Today, only three countries in the world still ban the commercial use of GPS: Egypt, Syria and North Korea (which happens to manufacture GPS jamming devices).

On the web: Daily News Egypt - American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt

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Tags: smartphone  smartphones  gps  nokia,  taxes  Egypt