Issuing licences for ADSL high-speed internet will have several advantages for informal internet service distributors, according to a number of officials working in the field.
Hany El-Abd, the chairman of the General Syndicate of Internet, Communications and Information Technology Workers (SICIT), said issuing such licences will mark an official acknowledgment by the Ministry of Communications and the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) of the role of internet service distributors in the sector.
Internet distributors operate informally, linking internet connections from internet service providers such as TE Data and Orange to several homes at a lower fee than prevalent internet subscription rates.
El-Abd said the state treats internet distributors as if they are traders. Obtaining regional internet licences will mean that internet distributors are officially recognised, along with companies like TE Data and Orange.
This is especially important, as currently the NTRA refuses to intervene in most of the conflicts between distributors and internet companies in order to resolve them, claiming that these problems should be resolved between companies and their distributors.
The chairman believes the regulatory framework for issuing these regional licences has not yet been determined. He rejected the idea of providing services through the licences in the form of buying speeds at “wholesale prices” from internet companies and then reselling them to the public.
He also requested that these licences be similar to those provided to first-category companies like TE Data and Orange, with the exception of regional licences being provided for specific areas and governorates.
Providing regional internet licences in a manner that satisfies distribution companies will eliminate the phenomenon of illegal cables and increase the state’s, as well as the companies’, profitability, El-Abd said. It will also help the distribution of ADSL high-speed internet.
Internet distributors provide offers and pricing plans that are competitive with illegal internet cables, and this will eventually help to distribute internet across all areas and villages, according to El-Abd. He noted that reports of some private institutions showed that the distribution rate of internet in Egyptian households does not exceed 17%, whereas according to the global standards it should not be less than 40%.
Owner of one of the distributor companies of TE Data’s internet services Mohamed Kotb said that regional internet licences will have a positive impact on distributors in terms of finances, as it would transform them from distributors for existing internet service providers to competing companies on a regional level.
Kotb also rejected the idea of launching regional licences by buying speeds at wholesale prices from internet companies and then reselling them to the public, as he believes this method will not provide an added value.