Fate of fourth mobile license unclear

Mobile operators have not reached a final agreement with Telecom Egypt (TE) regarding a fourth mobile license for Egypt’s landline operator TE, an official source from the telecommunications sector said.
 
There are issues that remain unresolved in the negotiations sponsored by the Communications Ministry, the source added.
 
The same source said an agreement is unlikely to be reached within the coming two weeks, during which the fourth license was expected to be launched as previously announced by the Communications Minister in August.
 
The source, which declined to be identified, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that any of the existing mobile operators may resort to international arbitration to challenge the government's granting of a fourth mobile license to TE which is owned by the state and the owner of a share in Vodafone, one of the three mobile operators, if the different parties do not reach a satisfactory agreement and a license is granted to TE.
 
Meanwhile, Mohamed al-Nawawy, CEO at Telecom Egypt, told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Monday that the company wishes to enter the Egyptian market as an integrated operator, and added that the company obtained a mobile license in 2002 and then signed an agreement with Mobinil and Vodafone one year later that stated that it should not provide mobile phone services before five years. As such, TE has had the right to launch mobile phone services since 2008, he said.
 
He also said that the company has the right to enter the market to serve its customers better, adding that Egypt is the only country in the world which does not have a national mobile operator.
 
Nawawy said nothing prevents the company from providing mobile phone services before the start of October. “The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has issued a statement stating that TE has obtained the fourth mobile operator license.”
 
He also said that partnership between Telecom Egypt and mobile operators has existed for more than 10 years and that the size of transactions between them amounts to LE4 billion a year.
 
He also denied claims that a fourth license would have negative impacts on the market, saying the Egyptian market is young and can accommodate a fourth operator.
 
Nawaway said that in the first year of its operation, the company will seek to have a customer base that constitutes 20 percent of 35 million individuals who are members of the families of 7 million clients who own landlines. Later, the company will seek a wider scope of competition.
 
Regarding prices, he said the company will offer competitive prices in order to win customers.
 
Concerning investment in undersea internet cables, he said that TE has projects to make new cables for China, which has 900 million internet users, and for the East Coast of Africa.
 
 
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm