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Egypt Orange offered 4G licence for $400 million in spectrum shake-up

CAIRO: Orange Egypt said on Sunday that Egypt’s telecommunications regulator had asked it to pay 3.54 billion Egyptian pounds ($399 million) for a licence to offer fourth-generation mobile phone services.

The regulator had asked it to pay 100 million Egyptian pounds to acquire a fixed-line licence and 1.8 billion pounds to offer international calls, Orange Egypt said in a statement.

Orange Egypt said it was looking into the licence offers and had yet to make a decision.

Egypt is selling the 4G licences as part of a long-awaited plan to reform the country’s telecoms sector and the regulator has confirmed that it approached the three companies that currently offer mobile services about buying them.

Telecom Minister Yasser al-Qadi told television channel CBC last month that Egypt was planning to offer high-speed 4G licences to companies already operating in Egypt.

The reforms will allow Egypt’s land-line monopoly Telecom Egypt (TE) to enter the mobile phone market directly while allowing mobile operators to offer fixed line services, ending its domination of the sector.

TE, which is majority owned by the government, said on Sunday it had also been granted a 4G licence. It was not clear how much TE, which does not offer its own mobile services but does own a stake in Vodafone Egypt, would pay for the new spectrum.

“This move will enable TE to fulfil our long awaited goal of becoming a total telecommunications operator, by offering mobile services,” TE CEO Tamer Gadalla said in a statement.

It was not clear what would happen to the Vodafone Egypt stake if TE begins offering mobile services directly. Under previous reform plans, which have since been scrapped, TE would have had to dispose of its stake.

Vodafone Egypt said it received an offer from the telecoms regulator a week ago, but declined to give any numbers.

Khaled Hegazi, external affairs and legal director at Vodafone Egypt, said, however, that not all the mobile service providers had necessarily been offered the same prices or terms.

“Each company has specific conditions that are considered competitive. We receive different offers based on each company’s condition in the market,” he told Reuters.

Etisalat, which also provides mobile services in Egypt, was not immediately available to comment.

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