Vodafone under fire for actions during Arab Spring

A Vodafone store is pictured in London. The British mobile phone company is under fire for its actions during Egypt's Arab Spring.

Vodafone, one of the world's largest cellular operators and the part-owner of the U.S. wireless company Verizon, is under fire for its actions during Egypt's Arab Spring.

The company's footprint in Egypt is large -- it is the  largest mobile phone company in Egypt, with more subscribers than any other company in the country.

Vodafone was forced during the uprising by the Mubarak regime to shut down its network for 24 hours, and the operator also prevented its customers accessing the Internet for five days.

Before the uprising in Egypt, Vodafone was signing up 3 million new customers per quarter. In the three months after the revolution that had slumped 80 percent.

"Companies aren't perfect prognosticators, they are also not the ethical arbiter of whether or not a regime survives or not," said Scott Cleland, who runs the Precursor consulting firm.

If Vodafone had sided with protestors and the Mubarak regime survived, the company could have been in breach of its contracts and kicked out of the country.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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