The Egyptian regulator The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has confirmed that it will issue unified licences, allowing the country’s operators to provide fixed and mobile services.
NTRA described unified licences as an “optimal regulatory solution” that would “pave the way for the attainment of the growth and the balance required for the telecom market in Egypt”.
It is not yet clear when the licences are likely to be issued or which operators will receive them. The decision must be referred to the cabinet’s economic committee before passing to the cabinet itself for final approval.
Unified licences will have a significant impact in the market, allowing operators to provide fixed and mobile services in tandem. This has the potential to create conflicts of interest, most notably with fixed-line market leader Telecom Egypt.
The operator is expected to win a unified licence, which would permit it to provide mobile services under its own brand for the first time. This would create a conflict of interest with Vodafone Egypt, in which it owns a 45% stake.
It has been reported that Telecom Egypt may avoid this by simply acquiring a controlling stake in Vodafone Egypt and using this as its mobile arm following the auction of 4G spectrum later this year. However, if NTRA aims at fostering competition it is more likely that Vodafone would buy out Telecom Egypt’s stake.