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Monday, Oct 23rd

Egypt rakes in over US$1bn through 4G licenses

Egypt rakes in over USbn through 4G licenses

The four telcos that have been granted 4G licenses by Egypt's government have contributed more than a billion US dollars to the national fiscus through their individual approvals to rollout 4G services in the country, according to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

The Ministry says it was able to amass more than US$1.1bn, as well as additional 10 billion Egyptian pounds (US$530 000 000) from agreements concluded with Vodafone Egypt, Orange Egypt, Etisalat Egypt and Telecom Egypt.

While unveiling 4G at the Giza Pyramids last week, officials expect that the technology will boost the country's rating on global ICT indicators.

"Egypt joins the ranks of the countries that provide 4G services, offering high speed internet access, image and video transmission services without temporary data buffering, advanced cloud computing services and other telecom services. This will be reflected positively on providing high quality services for subscribers, improving Egypt's ranking in the indicators of the reports issued by international institutions, especially that Egypt was one of the six countries in the world that hasn't provided 4G services yet."

The country's internet speed is currently among the slowest in the world and ranks in 146th place out of 150 countries, according to the 2017 Speedtest market report issued in April 2017.

Thursday's 4G launch celebration was attended by the ICT Minister Yasser El Kady along with National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) Acting Executive President Mostafa Abdel-Wahed, CEO of Orange Jean Marc Harion, Vodafone CEO Stefano Gastaut, CEO of Etisalat Egypt Hazem Metwally and Telecom Egypt (TE) Managing Director and CEO Ahmed El Beheiry.

Precarious licensing process

The 4G licensing process in Egypt has not been without its controversy.  The sale of 4G licenses almost failed to materialise until an agreement was reached at the last hour betwee the NTRA and the country's three telcos in December 2016.

The ministry revealed late last year that Vodafone Egypt had signed its 4G license for US$335 million, as well as a license to offer virtual fixed-lines services worth US$11.262 million.

Etisalat Misr's 4G license cost the telco US$535.5 million, while their fixed-line license totalled US$11.262 million. Orange Egypt was said to have agreed to fork out US$484 million and US$11.262 million for its 4G and fixed-line licences respectively. Telecom Egypt had paid US$806m for its license in August 2016.

All telcos, except Telecom Egypt, failed to meet the NTRA's deadline of 22 September 2016 for the submission of their 4G license applications.

Disagreements between the telcos and the NRTA on price and other conditions led to the government cancelling its offer of 4G licences.

That cancellation then resulted in an emergency meeting by the NTRA Board of Directors for a debate of the option of offering the 4G licenses as part of an international tender, among other alternatives.

The licensing process was salvaged with the announcement of the agreements in December.

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