Egypt finalising unified telecoms licence after missing launch date

CAIRO, July 2 Wed Jul 2, 2014 8:08am EDT

CAIRO, July 2 (Reuters) - Egypt is finalising the details of a long-awaited unified licence for both mobile and landline telecommunications, its telecoms minister said on Wednesday, after the announced activation date of June 30 passed without implementation.

"We are in the last stage to complete the details relating to the unified licence and the steps to create the unified entity," Atef Helmy told Reuters in a text message, without giving further details.

The licence would allow telecoms firms to operate fixed-line and mobile networks, and therefore open the way for Egypt's fixed-line monopoly Telecom Egypt to offer mobile services.

Egypt's three existing mobile service providers, Vodafone Egypt, Mobinil and Etisalat Egypt, have been eating away at Telecom Egypt's fixed-line services as more Egyptians opt to use mobile phones and the internet instead.

Telecom Egypt has been relying on its data business to boost revenue and has been waiting to launch a new mobile operation that would complement its existing joint venture with Vodafone and rival the sector's two other players.

In May, Telecom Egypt agreed to pay 2.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($350 million) for a mobile licence.

($1 = 7.1501 Egyptian Pounds) (Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Mark Potter)