After several delays, Egypt’s 4G frequencies are now ready to be used for service provision, according to the country’s communications minister Yasser al Kadi.
“We are now ready to hand over 4G mobile frequencies to any company that is ready,” said Kadi. “We are waiting for companies to finish preparations to receive the frequencies.”
Although Egypt’s 4G licence auctions were held last year, it has taken until now for the government to ready the frequencies for transfer to winning bidders. Etisalat, Orange Egypt and Vodafone Egypt obtained licences in the auctions, while state-owned Telecom Egypt is planning a 4G launch after obtaining a unified licence that allows it to offer 4G services.
The spectrum licensing process was fraught with criticism, with the three private operators initially refusing to participate in the auction on the grounds that they would not receive enough spectrum. There was also backlash against a term of acquisition that would have required operators to pay 50% of the licence cost in US dollars. While the offending terms were eventually changed, Orange Egypt reportedly complied with the order to pay half the licence fee in US currency.
Egypt’s government is touting the advent of 4G as a means of both generating cash for the state and revitalising the telecoms sector. Kadi stated that the auction had brought in $1.1 billion for the sector along with $1.13 billion for the state budget.