Several experts agree that the Egyptian communication market has developed into a prominent one and that it has many opportunities for growth. However, after the four major communication companies obtained the fourth generation (4G) licences this year and became integrated operators, many believe that the market needs to be reorganised and the communication law be amended to guarantee that the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) will be independent of the government’s influence.
These opinions were brought up during a seminar last Wednesday that discussed the 4G licence negotiations; it was organised by the Scientific Society of Telecom Engineers and took place at the Engineers Syndicate
Professor at the faculty of engineering in Ain Shams University Abdel Aziz El-Bassiouni said that the Egyptian communication market is very prominent, citing that it represents 1.5% of the international market and makes annual revenues that reach an estimated EGP 35bn.
El-Bassiouni demanded that the government support one of Egypt’s oldest telephone companies, Telecom Egypt, and to enable it to actively participate in the fierce competition between the three mobile companies operating in the market.
However, communication consultant and former deputy minister of communications Dr Khaled Sherif said that Egypt’s overall communication service quality is still not acceptable. The service coverage does not exceed 20% of Egypt’s total area; moreover, the average speed offered to customers does not exceed 1.2 Mbps, although the currently used technology allows for a speed of 42 Mbps to be offered, according to Sherif.
Sherif said that the NTRA is weak and that the executive authority eroded its power after the law chained it up and put it under the government’s control. He stressed the necessity of amending Law No. 10/2013 as a way of guaranteeing free circulation of information and electronic signatures, and preventing the government from imposing control over the NTRA.
Also addressing the need for changes in the market was professor of engineering in Cairo University Ahmed El-Hefnawy who criticised the lack of transparency in administering the communication sector. The philosophy of how the communication networks are handled must be changed, he said. “The entire system needs to be replanned.”
Vice president of the Scientific Society of Telecom Engineers Talaat Omar said that large capital investments must be injected into the communication sector for it to be able to provide better and faster services. The sector had previously paid attention to its vertical growth without injecting investments to cover that growth.
The seminar also continued to discuss the crisis that Telecom Egypt is going through after it entered into the mobile market, which will require making large investments in order to ensure that the company has a strong position in the modern communication market.
Also participating in the seminar was board member of the syndicate Mohamed Al-Ashqar and head of engineering education committee at the syndicate Dr Hamdy El-Leithy.