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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Egypt’s MNOs refuse 4G licence

ALL THREE MOBILE OPERATORS shun 4G licences: Vodafone Egypt, Orange Egypt, and Etisalat Misr have all refused to buy 4G licences, Reuters reported. The deadline for submitted bids for the licences was last Thursday and none of the companies submitted an offer. Orange Egypt sent a bourse statement saying it refused to bid for the licence under the current circumstances and regulations, but would consider revisiting its decision if the situation should change. Vodafone Egypt considered bidding, but reached the conclusion that the spectrum on offer neither allows for operating 4G services effectively nor for faster internet speeds. It will also revisit its stance if the situation changes, Al Masry Al Youm reported. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA)’s president Moustafa Abdul Wahed rejected the companies’ claims about insufficient spectrum being made available, saying “of course it will not be enough for the 90 [mn] users, but it’s sufficient” as a starting point, according to Bloomberg. The MNOs had petitioned to the Prime Minister’s office last week to amend the terms of the issuance, which they said favour Telecom Egypt (TE), to no avail.

NTRA had said it would offer the licence to international operators if the three existing MNOs did not bid and Kuwaiti mobile operator Zain, China Telecom, Saudi Telecom and Lebara KSA have all expressed an interest. A senior NTRA official tells Al Borsa that TE has the right to buy further 4G frequencies before a fifth telecom operator is brought to the market, a move meant to ensure TE’s viability before allowing a new competitor into the game. Nonetheless, TE is in a precarious situation, as the state-owned operator was given a two-month deadline to reach an agreement with an MNO to use its 2G and 3G network infrastructure until it completes its own 4G network. NTRA said it will decide on a course of action after a board meeting in October.

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