Egypt’s National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) is reportedly set to hold a board meeting with a view to finalising its plans for the sale of a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) concession. According to Bloomberg, which cites local new source Al Borsa, the regulator’s board members will meet in order to reach a final determination on the pricing of the concession, as well as to cement a date for the offering of the licence.
The development follows on from reports in May 2012, which claimed that the introduction of a fourth player to Egypt’s wireless sector was another step closer to reality, with the NTRA at that date indicating that it was aiming to form a committee and define the necessary regulatory framework for the introduction of virtual operators within three months.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the odds of further competition being introduced to the country’s wireless sector in the form of a new network operator have been somewhat played down in recent years, with May 2011 seeing claims that in the wake of the country’s political upheaval the government would hold off on licensing a new player. Communications minister Magued Osman at that date noted: ‘There are a lot of changes in Egypt now and we are not sure whether launching a new licence at this moment is the right decision from the economic point of view.’ The prospect of opening up competition via the introduction of MVNOs has, however, been seen as a possibility, and one of the most likely bidders for a concession is fixed line incumbent Telecom Egypt (TE). Indeed, reports in July 2011 cited the telco’s chairman Akil Beshir as saying that his company was continuing to discuss the possibility of acquiring an MVNO concession, with the executive quoted as saying: ‘Many people do not expect this government to take a major decision like introducing an MVNO, but we keep working on it.’