CAIRO: Egyptian telecom industry officials have strongly criticized the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) for the lack of clarity and transparency on offering licenses for international communications operations, which has been delayed for several months.
Minister of Communication Tarek Kamel had announced on Sunday that the government would offer licenses for handling international calls on mobile phone operators, provided they have digital infrastructure subsidiaries.
But a senior official at the Egyptian National Telecommunications Corporation lambasted the ministry s decision to restrict licenses to mobile phone operators, urging the government to offer them in a public competition between companies.
Meanwhile, chairman of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority Amr Badawy said offering international calls licenses to mobile operators would be the best option at present, taking into account the prospects for growth in the mobile phone market in Egypt.
Nevertheless, restriction of international calls licenses to mobile phone operators could not be adopted. Vodafone Egypt sealed an agreement with Telecom Egypt two months ago on exclusive rights to pass international calls of Vodafone Egypt through the network of the state owned company well beyond 2007.
Sources from Telecom Egypt also said the company was in talks with Mobinil to renew their agreement on passing international calls through the Telecom Egypt network. The third operation will be the only mobile phone service provider that would need a license for handling international calls.
Industry experts, however, say that Etisalat Egypt will probably face obstacles in obtaining an international calls gateway. The Ministry of Communication requires that applicants should have a digital infrastructure subsidiary, which would mean additional investments that the UAE company would not pay at present, they argue.