Suspending mobile provider license threatens Telecom Egypt, says official

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has criticized the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) for refusing to offer a fourth mobile phone license, despite the fact that it was announced more than three years ago.

He said that this would threaten state-owned Telecom Egypt (TE), the only provider for landlines, which is losing market shares to mobile phone companies, which now possess more than 85 percent of the market.

He called on both President Mohamed Morsy and Prime Minister Hesham Qandil to save the company from collapse, especially as it employs more than 60,000 people.

NTRA President Amr Badawy insists on suspending the license.

He explained that the mobile phone companies provide landline and mobile phone and Internet services, while Telecom Egypt only provides ground services for both. Statistics from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics show that Egyptians spend LE35 billion annually on mobile phones and the Internet, but only 14 percent goes to TE, while the rest goes to mobile phone providers to transfer abroad.

He contended that a certain mobile phone company made profits 35 times the investment it had initially spent.

TE workers have threatened demonstrations to pressure the government to grant their company the license.

Landline subscribers dropped from 11 million to 8 million in the last three years, during which time 92 million mobile lines were sold by the three providers: Vodafone, Etisalat and Mobinil.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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