Egypt 4G ‘about to start’ as regulator warns of penalties

LTE services in Egypt are about to be activated, according to an interview with the country’s regulator this morning, but he warned that he will impose sanctions on operators failing to meet quality standards.

Mustafa Abdul Wahid, acting executive president of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA), told Daily News Egypt that operators face having their licences revoked in some circumstances.

Etisalat, Orange and Vodafone are the three operators that can now provide 4G services in Egypt – after a hard-fought negotiation with the NTRA – in competition with Telecom Egypt, which has had a licence for some time.

The 4G service licence obliges companies to provide good 3G service in the areas where 4G signals may be weak to ensure that all clients have access to decent communication services, Abdul Wahid told the newspaper.

He said the list of sanctions contained in the 4G licence agreement includes terms about the quality of service that companies are obliged to provide. They include deterrent penalties for companies if they go below a stipulated quality.

He said sanctions also include a fine of up to 25% of the insurance value paid by the company, amounting to 100 million Egyptian pounds ($5.6 million) each time. “This fine will be payable if companies delay payment for the service or break any of the contract terms,” reported the newspaper.

In theory the new licences are for unified services, allowing the three companies to provide fixed services in competition with Telecom Egypt. However, Abdul Wahid told the newspaper that the companies had not yet submitted requests to begin fixed services.

Etisalat and Orange each have 10MHz of spectrum for 4G services and Vodafone – which has a complex relationship with Telecom Egypt – has 5MHz. Not all of the spectrum is immediately available, as NTRA has to evict current users.