Telecom Egypt (TE), the state-owned landline monopoly, said Sunday its board had tentatively approved plans to buy a fourth-generation mobile licence and a company official said it would offer the services within a year of obtaining frequencies.
Egypt is selling four 4G licences as part of a long-awaited plan to reform the telecoms sector.
The reforms will potentially allow Telecom Egypt, which owns a 45 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt, to enter the mobile phone market directly. They could also allow Egypt’s three mobile operators to offer fixed-line services, ending TE’s dominance.
TE said in a statement on the stock exchange website that its board of directors had given its preliminary approval on July 28 and a full study of the 4G licence plan would now be presented to the investment committee.
“Telecom Egypt will provide the service within a year of obtaining the licence due to its need for experts to run mobile services, prepare networks and work on agreements,” a TE official, who declined to be named, said.
Egypt’s telecom regulator has directly offered 4G licences to the three companies currently offering mobile services – Orange Egypt, Vodafone Egypt, and Etisalat — as well as to TE. Only Orange Egypt has disclosed the price it has been offered to obtain the licence — about $400 million.
Banking sources told Reuters earlier this month that Telecom Egypt was in talks with banks to secure a loan worth 5 billion Egyptian pounds ($563.07 million) to acquire a 4G licence.
The operators have until the first week of August to submit responses.
The government hopes to collect a total of 22.3 billion Egyptian pounds from licence fees, Communications and Information Technology minister Yasser al-Kadi said last month.