Telecom Egypt gears up for GSM

02 November 2001

State-owned Telecom Egyptis starting to take the practical steps necessary to allow it to launch its GSM service in December 2002, when the four-year exclusivity period enjoyed by the two existing operators expires. These steps include the formation of a separate mobile phone venture, the appointment of designers for the new system and initial discussions with prospective equipment suppliers.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) in August cleared the way for Telecom Egypt to go ahead with its GSM plans. The regulatory body specified that the company should pay a fee of £E 1,975 million ($470 million) for the licence to set up the new network, which will operate on a 1,800-Hz frequency (MEED 24:8:01).

Telecom Egypt chairman Akil Bashir has announced the selection of Telcordiaof the US to draw up the technical designs for the GSM system. It is understood that Germany's Detecon has been engaged to do the marketing and administrative studies. A tender for the supply of equipment is expected to be issued in the next few months. Prospective bidders are understood to include Siemensof Germany, France's Alcatel and Sweden's Ericsson.

The government has been seeking to privatise Telecom Egypt, either through a public share offering or through the sale of a stake of up to 34 per cent to a strategic investor. It is understood that the option of selling a strategic stake in the mobiles venture is also under active consideration.

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