Egyptian fixed-line incumbent Telecom Egypt has announced its EGP2.5 billion acquisition of a mobile license from the country’s authorities.
The license will allow the operator to provide mobile services alongside the fixed ones it already offers to consumers and businesses, using the local mobile networks of Etisalat (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), Orange (Paris, France) and Vodafone (Newbury, UK).
Meanwhile, the three mobile operators are each to pay EGP100 million for similar ‘unified’ licenses allowing them to provide fixed services on the infrastructure of Telecom Egypt (Cairo).
Reports from Bloomberg indicate that Egyptian authorities will set up a state-managed company with responsibility for renting and managing telecoms infrastructure and involving the participation of the four operators.
Telecom Egypt currently owns 45% of Vodafone Egypt but will have a year to negotiate an exit from the business –under the new rules – although it says this is not obligatory and that it could even look to buy a controlling stake when 4G spectrum is auctioned.
Mobile operators have previously resisted the plans to let Telecom Egypt access their networks, with Vodafone even going so far as to threaten international arbitration if authorities moved ahead with the scheme.
The players are said to be studying the documentation before they issue a formal response to it, but have previously expressed concern they will be allowed access only to Telecom Egypt’s older copper lines, under the rules, and not to its higher-speed fiber-based infrastructure.
Unsurprisingly, Telecom Egypt endorsed the changes in a statement published on its website.
“Our customers require high quality, competitively priced total telecoms services,” said Mohammed Elnawawy, the managing director and chief executive of Telecom Egypt.
“Telecom Egypt will abide by the rules of governance and proceed to develop the necessary commercial agreements with our business partners and expedite the steps set out by [authorities].”