Egypt approves unified licence

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Egypt’s government yesterday approved a long-awaited plan to issue a unified landline and mobile telecoms licence, opening the way for fixed-line monopoly Telecom Egypt to offer mobile phone services.

The licence had been due to be activated on June 30 but that date passed without implementation. In May, Telecom Egypt agreed to pay 2.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($350 million) for permission to offer mobile services. It has been waiting for the details of the unified licence to be finalised.

Egypt’s three existing mobile service providers, Vodafone Egypt, Mobinil and Etisalat Egypt, have been eating away at Telecom Egypt’s business as more Egyptians opt to use mobile phones and the Internet instead.

Telecom Egypt has been relying on its data business to boost revenue and has been waiting to launch a new mobile operation. It already owns a 45 per cent stake in Vodafone Egypt.

Telecom Egypt was originally given an year to sell its stake in Vodafone Egypt, once the unified licence was activated. It would now have to sell the stake by December 2015.

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