Vodafone Egypt may not acquire a 4G licence in the market, according to reports.
The country’s regulator NTRA is making four 4G licences available, with one expected to be bought by fixed incumbent Telecom Egypt, which holds a 45% stake in Vodafone Egypt.
Regulatory reforms in the telecoms sector allowed the fixed operator to obtain a unified licence for mobile and fixed services in 2014. The licence allows Telecom Egypt to move directly into the mobile market; however, its mobile launch has been hit with numerous setbacks, with its holding in Vodafone Egypt in particular representing a conflict of interest.
However, recent reports have indicated that Telecom Egypt will not have to sell its stake in Vodafone Egypt before it begins its mobile offering. The operator does intend to divest the holding but will be able to wait for a good price. Telecom Egypt has reportedly “tentatively” approved the acquisition of a 4G licence with the aim of offering services from within a year of obtaining the spectrum.
Meanwhile, Vodafone Egypt is examining the 4G licence draft further, with the firm noting that a potential purchase is too far-off to warrant a review of financing options at this time.
NTRA has made the licences available to Egypt’s three mobile operators – Etisalat, Orange Egypt and Vodafone Egypt – with Orange revealing that it will pay around $400 million for the licence. Telecom Egypt is attempting to procure a loan of around EGP5 billion ($563 million) from an Egyptian bank to aid its bid for a licence.
The government expects the auctions to bring in around EGP22.3 billion, with operators due to register interest in bidding during the first week of August.