Orange Egypt asked to pay €352M for 4G licence

Orange Egypt said it has been asked to pay EGP3.54 billion (€352 million/$400 million) for a 4G licence, although new licensing conditions for the market's other two mobile players and Telecom Egypt remain unclear.

Reuters reported that Orange Egypt received a letter from the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) that also requested EGP100 million for a fixed-line licence and EGP1.8 billion to offer international calls. The company said it has yet to make a decision on the licences.

Orange made the announcements in a statement on the Egyptian stock exchange that is available only in Arabic, in response to "what has been published under the title '22.28 billion pounds, the value of new licences'."

This appears to imply that NTRA is asking EGP22.28 billion for new 4G and fixed-line licences, indicating that Egypt is finally making progress on long-held plans to provide unified fixed and mobile licences on the market. That would enable fixed incumbent Telecom Egypt to enter the mobile market and Orange Egypt, Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat Egypt to offer fixed-line services.

The NTRA told Reuters it had approached the three existing mobile players about applying for 4G licences.

Egypt's government originally approved unified licences for fixed and mobile players in 2014, but the issue has been held up by squabbles over the interconnection fees charged by Telecom Egypt, among other matters.

Daily News Egypt noted that the government now plans to launch 4G services in the second half of 2016.

According to Reuters, Telecom Egypt said it has also been granted a 4G licence although without revealing how much it would have to pay. The incumbent operator also still owns a stake in Vodafone Egypt, and it is not yet clear what would happen to that stake if Telecom Egypt does start to sell mobile services. Daily News Egypt said the government is still planning to separate Telecom Egypt from Vodafone once the company gets the 4G licence.

Vodafone Egypt has also received an offer, but has not revealed any details. Khaled Hegazi, external affairs and legal director at the operator, told Reuters that not all the mobile operators had necessarily been offered the same prices or terms.

"Each company has specific conditions that are considered competitive. We receive different offers based on each company's condition in the market," he said.

Reuters added that Etisalat has not yet commented on the issue.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Daily News Egypt article

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