Telecom Egypt secures 4G license for US$806mn

TE 4G licenceTelecom Egypt (TE) has signed a US$806mn license agreement with Egypt's National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to establish and operate the fourth generation (4G) networks for mobile phones

The licence grants TE permission to use 2x5 MHz of 1800-MHz spectrum and 2x10 MHz of 700-MHz spectrum for the next 15 years. The licence is renewable for a further five years at a cost of US$225.2mn.

The signing ceremony took place this week at NTRA Smart Village premises. Egypt's minister of communications and information technology Yasser ElKady was joined by NTRA officials, and Telecom Egypt officials and BoD for the signing ceremony. The license agreement was signed by NTRA acting executive president Mustafa Abdel Wahed and TE CEO Tamer Gadallah.

Until recently, TE offered mobile services as a virtual player on Vodafone Egypt's network, of which it owns a 45 per cent stake. "Becoming a total telecom operator has been a central commitment of TE's customer-focused strategy. With this award, TE's objective of moving from being a fixed-line operator to a mobile operator becomes a reality," said TE chief executive Tamer Gadalla.

The announcement comes two weeks after reports emerged that Egypt's National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) planned to send out revised 4G licence terms to the country's operators. The Egyptian government stated that the introduction of the new technology aims to maximise revenues for the state coffers and improve the speed of services to mobile customers.

While TE has become the first operator in the country to secure a 4G licence, the NTRA is offering licences for the high-speed 4G mobile technology to Egypt's other players-Orange Egypt, Vodafone Egypt, and Etisalat. The other operators have until 22 September to pay required financial obligations and sign up for the licences, the state news agency said.

TE said that it is in advanced talks with a leading bank to provide an evergreen loan to fund almost half of the first payment for the licence. The rest of the payment is to be paid in installments over four years, half of which has to be paid in dollars. "We are grateful to the NTRA for expediting and finalising these license negotiations. This is a critical step forward to making Egypt a more connected society, allowing Egyptians to harness the superior data speeds high-quality 4G networks can deliver at home and at work," Gadalla said.

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