Egypt is selling four 4G licenses as part of a long-awaited plan to reform the telecoms sector and to raise money for stretched government finances. Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat signed deals with the country’s telecom regulator to acquire 4G licenses, joining Orange Egypt and Telecom Egypt.
Vodafone Egypt Telecommunications Co. paid $335 while Etisalat Misr, the Egyptian unit of Etisalat, also signed a deal late on Saturday, and will pay $535.5 million. An official from Etisalat Misr said his firm would also receive 10 Megahertz of additional spectrum after the deal.
Orange was first to sign the deal last week, paying $484 million for the license. Vodafone Egypt agreed to pay $335 million in a deal signed late on Saturday, the regulator said.
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Vodafone, Orange and Etisalat had initially refused the NTRA’s earlier license terms, citing insufficient spectrum. The regulator said it would launch an international auction for the licenses and set new terms, including calculating the value of 4G and fixed-line licenses in dollars. It offered companies that paid the full amount in dollars priority in securing additional frequencies in the future.
Both Etisalat Misr and Vodafone also also paid $11.26 million to operate a virtual fixed-line service as part of the agreement signed on Saturday, the NTRA said.
Telecom Egypt, the state’s fixed-line monopoly, was the only company to take up the original offer, buying a 4G license in August for 7.08 billion Egyptian pounds ($797 million) to enter the mobile market directly for the first time.
The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) is responsible for creating an enabling environment for competition among operators in the industry as well as ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services throughout the country.
The 4G deals include renewing the mobile operators’ 2G and 3G licenses till 2031, the NTRA’s Abdul Wahid said. He added that the companies will source dollars for their deals from their respective parent companies.