Telecom Egypt is looking at obtaining an MVNO license by
the year-end. The news of the MVNO comes after a failed attempt of Telecom
Egypt to increase its stake in Vodafone to 100 percent from the present 55
percent. Telecom Egypt is keen to become a ‘total telecom provider’ by buying
out Vodafone. However, the two service providers failed to agree on a price for
the stake sale.
Telecom Egypt is relying on its data services to offset
losses from the low income fixed line business, where it has a monopoly. The
operator hopes that extending its services further, by pioneering as the
country’s first MVNO will help boost its stronghold and profits further, and
also ward off existing competition from strong players like Vodafone, Mobinil
and Etisalat Misr. However, Akil Beshir, chairman of Telecom Egypt, is open to
collaboration with other operators for the MVNO.
This may be the first time for Egypt, but MVNOs are not
uncommon in the Middle East telecom market. Virgin Mobile – a well-known MVNO
promoted by Richard Branson was forced to shut its Qatar operations with QTel
last month, after running operations for almost a year. Virgin is keen to
invest in other parts of the Middle East and Oman, Jordan, Israel and Saudi
Arabia are key targets. Virgin may look Egypt to expand its presence in the
Oman has a number of successful MVNOs like Friendi
Mobile, Renna, Mazoon, Injaz, Samatel, and Sama Telecom. Sama Telecom has
recently received a full telecom license, competing with two main service
providers – Omantel and Nawras. Awasif Company, the Oman telecom regulator, has
two more MVNO requests pending. Madakhil is one of the MVNO aspirants which is
looking to provide mobile services for fishermen.
MVNO Friendi Mobile which launched 3G operations in Oman
in February this year, is hoping to do the same in Jordan soon, and is also
keen on expanding to 10 more countries in the Middle East. Friendi Group was
also awarded the New Entrant of the Year award at the CommsMEA Awards in Dubai,
for being the first MVNO to start operations in the Middle East. Looking at
Friendi’s steady progress, Egypt may soon be on its list of expansion plans.
By Beryl M