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Vodafone buys Egyptian 3G licence

Vodafone has coughed up E£3.34bn (Eur452m) for a 3G license in Egypt, the country’s telecoms regulator said on Monday.

As part of the 15 year agreement, Vodafone will also pay 2.4 per cent of annual revenues from the provided services.

The move makes Vodafone the second Egyptian operator to secure a 3G licence. Etisalat paid E£16.7bn and 6 per cent of annual revenues for the country’s first 3G licence last year. Both operators have been awarded 10MHz of spectrum in the 2GHz frequency band and have five years to provide coverage to the whole population.

However, the National Telecom Regulatory Authority of Egypt said that Vodafone cannot launch 3G services until Etisalat has started operations. Etisalat is expected to launch 3G services by the end of February.

The regulator said that the deal, which was signed by Vodafone, can be also granted to rival operator Mobinil in case it wished to sign the same licence.

Tarek Kamel, the minister of Communications and Information Technology and the chairman of the NTRA, said “The agreement with Vodafone to pay this amount of money mirrors a sincere confidence in the growth of the Egyptian Market with the introduction of the third mobile operator, in the light of the fact that the mobile subscribers in Egypt have surmounted to reach 18 million subscribers with a growth percentage of 70 per cent. The number is also expected to reach 30 millions by the end of 2010″.

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