Egypt’s National Telecom Regulatory Agency (NTRA) has awarded Vodafone Egypt a 15-year 3G licence in return for a EGP3.34 billion (USD586 million) fee. The NTRA added that Vodafone had also agreed to pay 2.4% of its annual revenues to the government. The high cost of the licence is linked to the USD2.9 billion paid by Etisalat to operate Egypt’s third wireless network; current legislation demands Egypt’s existing operators pay 20% of Etisalat’s licence fee in order to offer high speed wireless services. The regulator said Vodafone could start offering 3G services at any time after Etisalat’s launch. Yesterday it was reported that the UAE-backed newcomer is expected to launch at the end of 1Q 2007.