Typography

Egypt's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, H.E. Eng. Yasser El Kady, told Reuters on Sept. 11, that Egypt will launch commercial 4G services by the end of September. The Minister also said the government will release additional frequencies to operators in the future without committing to a timeline.

Minister El Kady said in May this year that Egypt was "ready to hand over 4G mobile frequencies to any company that is ready." At that time, the Minister said in an interview with Reuters that the government was "waiting for companies to finish preparations to receive the frequencies."

The launch of commercial services will draw a line under a messy 4G auction process in Egypt. The first operators to sign deals with Egypt's regulator to acquire 4G licenses in October 2016 were Vodafone Egypt, Etisalat and Orange Egypt. Meanwhile, the nation's state-owned Telecom Egypt also plans to launch 4G within a year of receiving its frequency license.

Obtaining the licenses wasn't a straight forward process for the operators, with Vodafone Egypt, Etisalat and Orange Egypt at first rejecting the terms of the auction because they felt there wasn't enough sufficient spectrum on offer. The telcos also disputed conditions which required 50 percent of the total license cost to be paid in US dollars.

The spectrum sales were delayed due to the telecom operators refusing to participate until the issue was sorted out. Orange Egypt, for example, came to an agreement with Egypt's regulator to pay half the license fee in US dollars.

Introducing 4G to Egypt has been part of the government's long-term plan to reform the telecom industry and raise more money for the state. After the spectrum auction, Minister El Kady said $1.1 billion had been raised, and an additional $1.13 billion for the state budget.