Orange Egypt, the country's second-largest mobile operator, is the first mobile company in Egypt to acquire the new fourth-generation (4G) internet services licence after signing a $484-million agreement with the national telecom regulator, read a company press release on Friday.
The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has agreed to provide Orange with new terms that increase the speed of 4G to 2x10 MHz as opposed to the 2x2.5MHz to 2x5MHz initially offered.
The fourth generation of mobile technology (4G) succeeds 3G in providing higher speed internet access for mobile phones.
Orange, along with the country’s two other major mobile operators – Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat – declined in September to apply for the 4G licence under the NTRA's previous conditions, after which the national regulator considered offering the 4G licence in international tender.
Telecom Egypt (TE), the country’s sole landline operator, was the first operator to sign the deal with the NTRA in August, buying a 15-year 4G mobile license.
“We believe that to be able to launch 4G with the acceptable quality of service we need at least 2x20 MHZ [of bandwidth] per operator,” Orange Egypt CEO Yves Gauthier told Ahram Online in emailed comments in July.
"This spectrum will enable Orange to offer the Egyptian customers the excellent quality 4G service that they deserve and that complies with international standards," statement said.
According to the Global Mobile Association (GSMA), the 4G speed assigned to each operator needs to be in the range of 2x30MHz to 2x60MHz across a range of coverage and capacity bands, with a minimum contiguous bandwidth of 2x10MHz in each band.
“Orange has invested more than EGP 32 billion ($3.6 billion) in Egypt and confirms its willingness to continue investing in the country. With its experience with 4G in 16 countries, Orange Egypt promises its customers that it will announce the launch date of the 4G services soon,” the company’s Friday statement said.
So far Kuwait's leading mobile operator Zain, Saudi Telecom and Lebara KSA have all expressed interest in obtaining 4G licences in Egypt.
Egypt is selling 4G licences as part of a long-awaited scheme to reform the country’s telecoms sector.