Egypt pushes back network launch date one month says Emirates Telecommunications Company
CAIRO: Etisalat Egypt, the country s new third mobile network operator, has pushed back its operation launch date to the end of March, Mohamed Omran, Emirates Telecommunications Company (ETC) CEO said at Cairo ICT. The conference wrapped up its four day schedule Tuesday.
ETC, which owns 60 percent of the consortium that won the network s operation in July for LE 16.7 billion, has run into some difficulties setting up its infrastructure, mainly in the erection of its start-up towers, Omran said. He added the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology (MCIT) has been working closely with the company to resolve disputes resulting from tower construction.
Public concern has risen steadily in the past two years over the health risks associated with telecommunication tower construction in close proximity to residential areas. But MCIT maintains the electronic signals sent from the towers are too weak to pose health risks and allows mobile operators to freely place them throughout the country as long as they adhere to government guidelines regarding signal strength, tower height and distance from local residents.
In late January one person was killed and twenty were injured in a shootout between Kafr Turk residents and police after the locals tried to prevent Mobinil employees from setting up a company tower. Police is said to have launched an investigation, but no results have been released.
The delay in Etisalat s launch date will push back the launch of 3rd Generation services despite the recent acquisition of the 3G operation license by Vodafone Egypt. Etisalat s deal with MCIT gives the company the right to be the first to offer the service until May 21, 2007 Vodafone Corporate Affairs Director Omar El Sheikh said his company is preparing to begin offering 3G services within days after Etisalat.
Meanwhile, Mobinil President and CEO Alex Shalaby downplayed the importance of acquiring a 3G license for his company to maintain and increase its market share, now standing at 52.3 percent.
The only service that 2G does not provide is the video telephone, Shalaby said.
Mobinil s dispute with the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority over the company s use of Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (Edge) technology is still ongoing with MCIT yet to rule in favor of either side.
Yesterday, Mobinil announced its final 2006 results, reporting 6 percent net income growth to LE 1.53 billion and 38 percent growth in its subscriber base to 9.3 million. Vodafone is yet to release its final 2006 figures, but preliminary figures indicate more than 60 percent in bottom line growth to more than LE 2 billion and a 43 percent increase in subscriber base to 8.4 million.