CAIRO - 20 July 2017: Egypt’s 94 million mobile services subscribers are about to get 4G services, after the nation’s three main mobile network operators received their 4G frequencies late last month. Service across the country is expected to be activated within two months, though a date for the service to be actively available is yet to be announced.
Although the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) is reportedly still finishing mapping out the frequencies before they can be used, Orange, one of the three mobile network operators, sent an invitation message to its Dokki customers to try their 4G services.
With the upgraded service, mobile line prices are set to increase, and Minister of Communications and Information Technology Yasser Al-Qadi told local media last month that the increase comes as a result of the parliamentary Plan and Budget Committee’s approval to impose an additional LE 50 on developing resources over the current LE 20, adding that this “will not have a significant impact on the size of the mobile market.” Telecom Egypt (TE) is expected to launch its 4G service by September. TE has launched a new tender for an advertising campaign that is expected to be conducted in the third quarter of this year, according to local news.
To date the state-owned TE has exclusively offered fixed-line telephone and Internet services; its September deal to acquire one of four Egyptian 4G licenses marks its first foray into mobile services. In a televised conference attended by Al-Qadi, TE CEO Tamer Gad Allah announced that TE had bought its 4G mobile license for LE 7.08 billion. The license’s validity is expected to last 15 years and can be renewed for another five years at a cost of LE 2 billion. In May 2016, the Egyptian Cabinet authorized the NTRA’s mandate to launch the fourth generation of mobile technology to increase the government’s resources and improve services to citizens.
In October 2016, Communications Minister Al-Qadi divulged that the sale of 4G licenses had generated $1.1 billion and LE 10 billion ($552 million), as the licensing fees were required to be paid partly in dollars and partly in Egyptian pounds. The funds are being treated as part of the public treasury since the dollars are considered direct foreign investment.
Initially, Egypt’s three main mobile operators, Vodafone, Orange and Etisalat, refused the Ministry of Communications’ offer to obtain a 4G license because of the high price and insistence that part of the fees be paid in dollars, which at the time were nearly impossible to obtain.
Later, in October 2016, Orange Egypt signed a contract with the NTRA in an agreement valued at $484 million. According to an official at Orange Egypt, the 4G frequencies services are set to jump from 7.5 MHz to 10 MHz. According to the Communications Ministry, the agreement with Vodafone is valued at $335 million, while the agreement with Etisalat is valued at $535.5 million. According to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), 17 operators in 12 countries around the world have commercially launched 4G LTE using the 900 MHz spectrum (3GPP band 8).