Fourth Egyptian mobile concession could be offered

22 Jan 2010

According to comments made by the Egyptian communications minister, Tarek Kamel, a fourth mobile concession may be considered in the country, Reuters reports. It is understood that, if the existing mobile network operators – MobiNil, Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat Misr – refuse to comply with existing pricing regulations then the introduction of another wireless player could be on the cards. When asked about the possibility of offering another mobile licence Mr Kamel said: ‘It’s not only a factor of subscribers. But if you ask me, ‘is the idea excluded?’ then I definitely tell you a big no.’

Local press reports have claimed that the existing mobile operators have objected to legislation under which the cost of mobile to fixed minutes must not exceed the pricing for mobile to mobile networks between different providers. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA), Egypt’s telecoms regulator, has definitively said that it will not rescind the new policies.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in mid-2008 fixed line monopoly provider Telecom Egypt (TE) filed a complaint with the Dispute Resolution Board of the NTRA, aimed at altering the rates for interconnection with mobile operators. The NTRA subsequently issued a ruling on the dispute on 3 September 2008, changing the interconnect prices between the fixed and mobile networks. MobiNil swiftly objected to the decision and filed a lawsuit on 1 November 2008 against the NTRA before the Administrative Court at the State Council, claiming that there was ‘no legal or contractual basis’ for the decision, calling for a cessation and nullification of the regulator’s ruling. Vodafone Egypt also raised a similar legal challenge to the amended interconnection fees.