Egyptian cabinet gives initial approval to controversial 4th mobile licence

Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Mar 2014

Approval sets the stage for the state's landline monopoly Telecom Egypt (TE) to begin offering mobile services

Egypt's Cabinet meeting, 20 March 2014 (Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Cabinet)

Egypt's interim authorities have initially approved the activation of the country's long awaited unified telecom license, a move that will set up the state's landline monopoly Telecom Egypt (TE) to begin operating mobile services.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said that all details of the fourth virtual mobile licence, supposed to be operated by TE, will be revealed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Earlier on Sunday, Egypt's telecommunications minister Atef Helmy said that the license would be activated before 30 June, according to a Reuters report which quoted Helmy as speaking at an industry event in Cairo.

The license will allow TE, which is 80 percent government-owned, to make use of the infrastructure of one of the existing mobile operators to provide its own mobile services, repackaged under the TE brand, in exchange for wholesale prices paid to the mobile operator.

In return, the universal license will allow Egypt’s three privately-owned mobile operators – the Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (Mobinil), Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat Egypt – to build a virtual network to provide landline services, using TE’s existing fixed network.

The proposed license will not, however, allow mobile operators to acquire their own international gateway or to build a fiber network similar to TE’s – an issue that the country's three mobile operators must settle in order to have the same rights as TE in terms of equitable competition in Egypt's telecom sector.

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