President Mubarak gave ‘clear and definitive orders to set up a third portable telephone company’, Information Minister Safwat el-Sharif said on 8 May. ‘The project’s implementation should begin immediately’ (MEED 25:4:03.)

Although the government is keen to break the two incumbents’ hold over the GSM market, no clear timeframe has been given for the launch, which TE had originally slated for the fourth quarter.

Under the terms of the mobile licence TE acquired for £E 1,975 million ($340 million) last year, the company has been entitled to start operations since 1 December. However, TE has not yet concluded its search for an international partner to take a stake in the GSM division, on which it is being advised by Credit Suisse First Boston.

Another major issue facing the company is whether it will be able to secure sufficient numbers of high-value subscribers to compete effectively with the two established operators (MEED 28:3:03).