The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) penned a set of sanctions for 4G services within the terms and conditions for the service licences, including a stipulated level of quality. Mustafa Abdul Wahid, acting executive president of the NTRA, said the 4G services will be officially launched with the frequency spectrums possessed by the mobile operators, even before they receive the bands that they bid for in October, according to a formal request by all three mobile operators.
He told Daily News Egypt that the 4G licences signed with mobile operators include sanctions; the possibility of revoking licences is on the table in the case that a fatal error is discovered.
The list of sanctions contained in the 4G licence agreement also includes terms about the quality of service companies are obliged to provide. They also include deterrent penalties for companies if they go below the stipulated quality. Abdul Wahid added that the NTRA will be closely monitoring the operators’ quality as soon as they begin offering the service. Furthermore, he noted that sanctions also include a fine of up to 25% of the insurance value paid by the company—amounting to EGP 100m each. This fine will be payable if companies delay payment for the service or break any of the contract terms. The old sanctions, however, are now being debated in court. He noted that the new list will not be applicable before the court decides on the old one.
According to Abdul Wahid, the 4G service licence obliges companies to provide good 3G service in the areas where 4G signals may be weak to ensure that all clients have access to decent communication services.
He pointed out that all three operators have already paid the agreed fees, except one company that did not pay part of the landline service licence fee.
4G services will be activated within the coming few days; operators do not have to wait for the new frequency spectrums. He explained that they submitted a request to begin offering the 4G services on the bands they possess currently until they receive the new ones. In October, Vodafone received 5 MHz of new frequency bands, while Orange and Etisalat each received 10 MHz.
The NTRA signed an agreement with sovereign bodies that have been occupying the spectrums to evict them. Abdul Wahid said fees for this have been paid, noting that the eviction will be completed in six months. He explained that the eviction process is gradual, where frequencies are freed up in each region at a time.
Meanwhile, he said that all three mobile operators that obtained the landline service licences have not yet submitted requests to begin offering the service.
Four operators were granted a grace period of four months to sign local roaming agreements. The period is set to expire in February. “If any company does not sign the agreement before that date, the NTRA will intervene to control the market,” he said.
He said that the 4G service is a good investment opportunity; approximately, there are only 5m devices in Egypt that can run 4G. Furthermore, he noted that the NTRA has tasked a department within it to study introducing 5G services once it is ready.
Some telecommunications companies have complained about Telecom Egypt (TE) conducting illegal practices in competition. As the infrastructure owner, Abdul Wahid said that he met with TE officials last week to warn them against illegal practices and promised to impose fines should this be discovered.
On the role of the NTRA in the New Administrative Capital, he said the authority is playing an important role to build the capital as a smart city. “All buildings will be pre-equipped with fibre optics, which would secure an excellent infrastructure.”
As for the complaints about the price of services, he explained that prices in Egypt are cheaper than many other countries. The average cost for mobile services is EGP 20 per month and EGP 75 per month for ADSL.