Telecom Egypt wants to become a fourth mobile phone operator as MVNO


Egypt could soon see a fourth mobile phone operator, with Telecom Egypt keen to obtain a licence that would let it lease infrastructure from other providers and offer its own call services. Another operator in Egypt's crowded mobile services market raises the prospect of greater competition and hence better deals for consumers.
Landline monopoly Telecom Egypt (TE) sent a release to the stock exchange on Thursday saying it will apply for the 'virtual' licence if the possibility is offered by Egypt's telecoms regulator. A Mobile Virtual Network Operator provides mobile services to customers by hiring network assets and capacity from another operator, meaning it does not have to build its own infrastructure.
Egypt currently has three mobile providers: Etisalat Egypt, Vodafone Egypt and Mobinil.
The head of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NRTA), Amr Badawi, told Ahram Online that his organisation is considering offering an MVNO licence to Telecom Egypt and the decision "might be taken within a month."
A virtual network works independently of the host mobile network and sets its own retail pricing. However, the virtual network has to pay a fee to the host in proportion to usage by its customers.
Telecom Egypt (TE) holds a monopoly on Egypt's fixed line market and is also a main shareholder in Vodafone Egypt. Acquiring another mobile phone interest could give TE a preferential position in the market, something Badawi says the NRTA is studying before offering a virtual licence.
The idea of ending TE's landline monopoly has been proposed many times. NRTA chief, Amr Badawi, told Ahram Online the idea is "a possibility" but not right now.