In its meeting that was chaired by Dr. Tarek Kamel, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, the NTRA’s board of directors issued a number of momentous resolutions that support and enhance the ICT sector in Egypt
First, Setting High-Speed Broadband Internet Services for Free Competition & Limiting Download Capacity.
The NTRA board of directors agreed, during their monthly meeting that took place yesterday, to liberalize the prices of ADSL broadband services while setting a maximum download capacity. The board decided to allow market players to decide on the price rates of ADSL services, except for the 256 Kb/s connections, which have been subjected to a mandatory reduction from LE95 to LE45 a month. The board also set the maximum download capacity limit to 2 GBs per month noting that companies are allowed to inflict additional costs on any customer who wishes to increase his maximum connection download limit.
These changes were brought about as part of the Broadband Initiative that was launched in 2004 which was aimed at spreading the usage of broadband services throughout the entire country and allowing a larger segment of consumers to benefit from these broadband services, while in the same time putting an end to the concept of line sharing – where only one consumer registers and gets broadband access before sharing it with neighbors living nearby through a router – which decreases the quality of service and disrupts the expansion of new services, such as voice and video service, as ADSL can only support such services through a phone line – which is linked to only one apartment.
The Executive Director of NTRA, Dr. Amr Badawi commented on the decision, stating that this will lead to an improvement in quality of service and a decrease in prices across all connection speed limits resulting from the different packages that the companies are sure to introduce as a result of the liberalization of prices, which would allow more people to utilize broadband services. Dr. Badawi also pointed out that these changes shall increase the number of internet users in Egypt, currently 6.8 million, which will increase the pool of people benefiting from the new services, offered that require broadband speeds as a minimum requirement for the offering of these services.
Dr. Amr Badawy added that the NTRA is supporting this reduction of prices was made possible through the Universal Service Fund in cooperation with the incumbent, Telecom Egypt, allowing the different ISPs to handle the price reduction which reached almost 50% with regards to the 256 Kb/s connection, which was previously offered for LE95 per month, while giving companies the freedom to price the higher speed connections 512 Kb/s – 1 Mb/s – 1.5 Mb/s but with a limitation on download capacity in order to cover the needs of one family only, in an attempt to stop Line Sharing, which was very common before limiting the download capacity of a connection.
On the other hand, the 2 Mb/s connections shall remain at its current price of LE760 per month, with no limitation on download capacity as it is meant to be offered to companies and institutions.
The NTRA board of directors agreed that these changes in regulation and price rates are to be introduced on the 1st of September 2007.
Second, The Award of the 3 G Mobile License To Mobinil Upon Mobinil’s Request:
The NTRA’s board of directors chaired by Dr. Tarek Kamel, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, agreed to provide Mobinil’s a 3G mobile license upon Mobinil’s request that was submitted last week. The required frequencies amounting to 19 MHz will be assigned to Mobinil in two phases as per the frequencies availability and the schedule of payment of Upfront Royalty for the issuance of this License which is equal to 3,340,000,000 million Egyptian pounds. This accords with the schedule of payment provided to Vodafone Egypt when it was awarded the 3 G mobile license last January because of the current availability of 5 MHz frequencies only. The second phase of frequencies assignment will be available later on.
Third, The Framework of International Telecommunications Gateways Liberalization:
The NTRA’s board of directors approved the framework of International Telecommunications Gateways liberalization. This allows the mobile Operators to be awarded international Gateways licenses in order to provide international telecommunications services to their subscribers. Other International licenses will be awarded to new companies in the future in the context of the fixed operator auction that will be held next year.
Fourth, The Regulatory Framework of Fixed Services Licenses:
The NTRA’s board of directors mandated the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to hold a detailed study and prepare a Request For Proposal (RFP) that will be issued before the end of this year.
Dr. Amr Badawi, the NTRA’s Executive President, emphasized that the entry of a competing second national fixed line operator into the fixed services market would enhance the introduction of new services as the Broadcasting Services and high-speed Broadband Internet Services. This will serve the interests of the users of the fixed and mobile services through the improvement of the quality of service, reduction of the services rates and attraction of foreign investments in the telecom sector in Egypt.