Unified licence will cost Telecom Egypt €261 million

Telecom Egypt will pay a hefty fee for a new unified operating licence in the country, under plans revealed by telecoms minister Atef Helmy.

 Atef Helmy, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Egypt

Atef Helmy, Egypt's Telecoms Minister

The incumbent operator will be charged 2.5 billion Egyptian pounds (€261 million/$358 million) for a licence that will enable it to offer mobile services directly for the first time. Mobile operators Vodafone Egypt, Orange-owned Mobinil, and Etisalat Egypt will be charged far less--100 million pounds--for their updated licences, which will offer them the chance to provide converged fixed and mobile services.

Helmy plans for the new licences to be up and running by end-June. Telecom Egypt's licence will run for around two years, until Egypt's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) auctions LTE frequencies, Bloomberg reported.

The plans will see a government-run company established to handle the rental of infrastructure to all four companies. However, the unified licences will only offer mobile companies access to Telecom Egypt's copper network. MCIT executive president, Hesham El Alaily, said the mobile operators must negotiate directly with Telecom Egypt over access to its fibre network, or deploy their own fibre through the new state-led company, Bloomberg added.

Egypt's current mobile licences contain no provision for Telecom Egypt to offer mobile services directly. The company worked around the licence terms by forging a joint venture with Vodafone. However, the new unified licence terms will require the incumbent to exit that venture within a year, Bloomberg stated. Telecom Egypt holds a 44.95 per cent stake in Vodafone Egypt.

Vodafone Egypt opposed unified operating licences, although a threat by the company to seek international arbitration over plans for the licences appears to have been appeased during meetings with Helmy in March.

Telecom Egypt is currently losing out to its three mobile rivals, as people in the country increasingly use their mobile phone instead of a landline to communicate, Reuters reported.

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

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