Egypt to auction 2nd fixed-line licence on June 19


Egypt's telecoms regulator said last Sunday it would auction a second fixed-line licence on June 19, bringing Egypt one step closer to ending state-run Telecom Egypt's fixed-line monopoly.

In an announcement published in the financial daily al Alam al Youm, the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) said interested parties could obtain a booklet of conditions starting on March 13 after paying a fee of US$10,000.

"The National Telecom Regulatory Authority announces the auction for the second fixed-line telephone licence in Egypt, and the Authority calls on consortiums of local and global companies to present their offers on Thursday, June 19, 2008," the announcement said. Telecom Egypt, currently the sole fixed-line operator in the most populous Arab country, will lose its monopoly once a second operator enters the market.

Etisalat Egypt, a unit of the Emirates Telecommunications, has said it would bid for the licence. Etisalat led a group of investors that paid US$2.9 billion to become Egypt's third mobile operator in 2006, with the right to offer higher-bandwidth 3G technology.

Egypt's Raya Technology and Communication said in December it was studying bidding for the licence through an alliance with an international operator. Raya works in mobile phone distribution, IT services and call centres business.

Raya's chairman Medhat Khalil said a number of factors would decide whether his company entered the auction, including whether the licence would include international calls.

Orascom Telecom and the Egyptian Post have also said they would bid for the licence. Companies planning to bid would also need to submit an auction guarantee of 10 million Egyptian pounds ($1.8 million), the NTRA announcement said.