United Arab Emirates telco Etisalat has soft launched Egypt’s third wireless network, making it the first to launch 3G services in the North African country. Etisalat, which paid USD2.94 billion for the licence last year, postponed its initial launch date of February after it encountered problems in deploying the network in certain areas, as well as in agreeing terms and conditions with incumbent operators Vodafone and Mobinil. Over 400,000 people pre-registered with the operator, and at the time of launch Etisalat had installed 760 base stations, many of them 3G-capable. By the end of the year the operator expects the number of base stations to have risen to 2,500. Etisalat owns 66% of the cellco, with the Egyptian Post Office, National Bank of Egypt and Commercial International Bank holding the remainder.