Vodafone Egypt is reportedly considering whether or not it will purchase a 4G licence in Egypt, as fixed incumbent Telecom Egypt edges closer to taking advantage of long awaited reforms in the country’s telecoms sector.
Egyptian regulator NTRA is selling four 4G licences as part of the plan which is likely to see Telecom Egypt, which owns a 45 per cent stake in Vodafone Egypt, enter the mobile market directly.
The company, which dominates fixed services in the country, was awarded the rights to a unified licence (mobile and fixed) back in 2014, but implementation has seen numerous delays, with its stake in Vodafone Egypt a contentious issue.
In recent days, Reuters reports that Telecom Egypt’s board “tentatively” approved plans to buy a 4G licence, and the company has set a goal of launching services within a year of receiving the frequencies.
In June, reports suggested it will not have to sell the stake in Vodafone Egypt to enter the mobile market, but will eventually dispose of it when it receives a good price.
Vodafone Egypt, meanwhile, is still studying the 4G licence draft, according to reports citing the company’s external and legal director, Khaled Hegazy, adding that it was too early to review financing options for any purchase.
Regulator NTRA has offered the 4G licences to the country’s three mobile players, Orange Egypt, Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat, as well as Telecom Egypt. Reuters said only Orange Egypt has disclosed the price it will have to pay, about $400 million, while Telecom Egypt has been in talks with banks to secure a loan worth EGP5 billion ($563 million) for the licence.
According to the country’s communications and information technology minister, the government hopes to raise EGP22.3 billion from the entire process.
The operators are expected to submit their interest for the licences in the first week of August.