Egypt telecoms regulator mulls offering 4G frequencies in global tender

Egypt’s telecoms regulator National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) intends to discuss in upcoming board meeting a plan to combine all the available 25 MHz frequencies and offer them to international tender.

Both local and global, Arab and non-Arab mobile operators can bid to obtain the 4G frequencies,an official in NTRA told Amwal Al Ghad on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

The source further added that the frequencies offered previously by NTRA were totally enough for Egypt’s three existing operators, Vodafone Egypt, Orange Egypt, and Etisalat Misr, to provide efficient 4G services.

NTRA has set the prices for the 4G frequencies at 3.5 billion pounds for both Vodafone and Orange, 4.5 billion Egyptian Pounds for Etisalat Misr, and 5.5 billion pounds for Telecom Egypt (TE). The authority decided that 50 percent of the value should be paid in US dollars.

TE, which recently acquired the 4G licence, was granted 15 MHz frequency bands and has reportedly submitted a bid formally to acquire the additional 4G spectrums available after the three mobile companies refused them, the official said. When combined together, the remaining 25 MHz will be a good factor to attract other bidders to acquire the licence and be able to provide a high quality 4G services.

The Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) previously called for a renewed dialogue between the Egyptian authorities and the country’s mobile industry after the offering of 4G licences failed to attract any bids from Egypt’s three mobile operators.

The GSMA understands the existing mobile operators are ready to support and invest in 4G in Egypt if sufficient spectrum is allocated, at a fair price, so that 4G services can be operated efficiently and enable customers to enjoy significantly faster speeds. It is essential that the price of spectrum access is appropriate to the national market and takes into account the investment necessary to provide robust networks to enable the delivery of the long-term social and economic benefits of mobile broadband.

The total amount of spectrum assigned to each operator for 4G needs should 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. In contrast, only 2×2.5MHz to 2x5MHz were proposed to mobile operators by the Egyptian authorities in the recent 4G licence offering.