Egypt's largest mobile phone operator, Mobinil, is demanding an investigation into the relationship between its closest rival, Vodafone Egypt, and the country's only fixed-line telecoms operator, Telecom Egypt, over a new pricing structure.
Mobinil has written a letter to the executive director of the country's telecoms regulator asking him to investigate Vodafone's phone tariff, called Aham Khamsa.
Under the tariff, up to five Vodafone customers can link their accounts. Each person in the group can send 60 minutes of calls and 60 text messages to other members of the group at a reduced charge.
Mobinil objects to the tariff because one member of the group can use a fixed-line number from Telecom Egypt.
'They are charging their customers less than the interconnect agreement between Vodafone Egypt and Telecom Egypt,' says Alex Shalaby, chief executive officer of Mobinil. 'We wrote a letter to the executive director of the National Telecoms Regulatory Authority. It needs to make sure the relationships are fair and square.'
Vodafone Egypt has to pay a fixed amount to Telecom Egypt whenever someone with one of its mobile phones, calls someone who is on a landline.
Mobinil says it has the same interconnect agreement with Telecom Egypt so it knows how much Vodafone Egypt has to pay.
Telecom Egypt has owned 49 per cent of Vodafone Egypt since October 2006. The UK mobile phone group Vodafone owns the remaining 51 per cent.
Ben Padovan, spokeman for Vodafone Egypt, denies it is getting any special treatment from the fixed-line operator. 'While we enjoy a good relationship with Telecom Egypt, this tariff contains no preferential treatment,' he says.