Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat Misr have signed license deals allowing them to operate fourth-generation (4G) mobile services in Egypt, the country’s telecoms regulator said on Sunday.
Egypt is selling four 4G licenses as part of a long-awaited plan to reform the telecoms sector and to raise money for stretched government finances.
The country’s three existing mobile phone operators – Orange, Vodafone and Etisalat – initially all turned down the 4G licenses saying the amount of spectrum on offer was not sufficient to allow them to offer the service efficiently.
The regulator then announced that operators that paid for a license entirely in dollars would be given priority in buying additional spectrum. U.S. dollars are scarce in Egypt due to a long-running economic crisis.
Orange was first to sign the deal last week, paying $484 million for the license. Vodafone Egypt agreed to pay $335 million in a deal signed late on Saturday, the regulator said.
Etisalat Misr, the Egyptian unit of Etisalat, also signed a deal late on Saturday, and will pay $535.5 million. An official from Etisalat Misr said his firm would also receive 10 Megahertz of additional spectrum after the deal.
Both Etisalat Misr and Vodafone also agreed on fixed line phone service licenses for $11.26 million each, the regulator said.
Telecom Egypt, the state’s fixed-line monopoly, was the only company to take up the original offer, buying a 4G license in August for 7.08 billion Egyptian pounds ($797 million) to enter the mobile market directly for the first time.
(Reporting by Ora Noureldin; Writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Mark Potter)