Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat signed deals with the country’s telecoms regulator to acquire 4G licences, Reuters reported, having previously refused to participate in last month’s auction.
The two operators, along with Orange Egypt, rejected the terms of the auction because they believed it did not offer sufficient spectrum and had concerns about a condition that 50 per cent of the total payment be made in US dollars.
Orange signed a deal last week to pay $484 million after the NTRA changed conditions for buying additional spectrum.
The operator also agreed to the currency condition. Vodafone and Etisalat did not disclose what portion of the sum they will pay in foreign currency but the former will pay a total of $335 million and the latter $535.5 million for their licences.
Eitsalat also plans to acquire 10MHz additional spectrum.
“The agreement availed additional spectrum to complement Vodafone’s existing strong spectrum holdings relevant to 4G,” Vodafone Egypt said.
Its CEO, Stefano Gastaut, said: “The terms and conditions we signed… are different from three weeks ago, we consider the terms now completely satisfactory to launch top quality 4G services,” adding that Vodafone Egypt is now the biggest holder of spectrum in the country.
The auction was part of the Egyptian government’s strategy to reform the telecoms sector and raise dollars.
Telecom Minister Yasser al-Qadi said: “Now that the four companies have signed the 4G licence, the telecom sector has raised $1.1 billion, in addition to EGP10 billion ($1.13 billion) for the state budget”.
Last month NTRA said it would look into other ways of encouraging interest in 4G including an auction for the international market.
Telecoms regulator head Mostafa Abdel Wahed said all payments will be made in full, without instalments, and the companies will have one month to complete any foreign currency transfers.