The Egyptian telecoms regulator, the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has announced that the deadline for bids for two geographically-restricted triple-play concessions has been pushed back by two months. According to Reuters, the NTRA has said that bids for the licences will now be due by 15 March 2010, while it also revealed that 18 interested parties had purchased bid documents so far. The delay is understood to have been spurred by requests from those companies considering bids, with a number reportedly asking for more time to allow for the formation of consortiums and the preparation of bids; companies that have confirmed their interest in the licences include local mobile operators MobiNil and Vodafone Egypt, as well as Egypt-based Orascom Telecom. In addition, potential bidders have also requested that the NTRA increase the 5,000 connections per residential compound maximum, although the regulator has yet to rule on this issue. The government does not plan to charge an upfront payment for the two licences, which it expects will attract investment totalling USD1 billion over a five-year period, but will instead take 8% of revenue per annum.
Plans to offer a second national fixed line licence meanwhile remain unlikely to move forward in the short term, according to comments from the head of the NTRA. Amr Badawi, commenting on the matter, said: ‘It’s not on the table right now…We’ll see how these licences develop and keep our options open later.’