Telecom Egypt eyes local Vodafone unit

Telecom Egypt, which this week reiterated that it expects the government to grant it a mobile licence before the end of this year, also said it may buy a controlling stake in Vodafone Egypt when LTE spectrum is offered on the market to avoid a possible conflict of interests.

The country's landline monopoly is hoping to gain a licence in 2013 that would allow it to offer integrated fixed and mobile services. Because the company also expects LTE spectrum to be offered within 10 months, Telecom Egypt may have a conflict if it develops its own LTE services, which would put it in competition with the Vodafone unit, CEO Mohamed El-Nawawy told Bloomberg.

According to Bloomberg, Vodafone has also expressed interest in buying Telecom Egypt's 45 per cent stake in the unit.

Reuters reported that the Egyptian authorities have previously said Telecom Egypt must pull out of its venture with Vodafone before pushing ahead with any plans for mobile operations.

Egypt currently has three mobile operators with Vodafone Egypt, Orange-owned Mobinil and Etisalat. The popularity of mobile Internet services in the country is eating away at Telecom Egypt's fixed-line business, Reuters said, and the operator is therefore seeing ways of increasing its exposure to mobile services.

Nawawy said the operator could offer mobile services one to two months after a licence is granted, and would then start seeing revenue from such services in the second quarter of next year.

In January, Egypt's telecoms regulator said it would grant Telecom Egypt a licence by mid-2013 to provide mobile services, and would allow mobile companies to offer fixed-lined services using Telecom Egypt's infrastructure, at a later date.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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