September 3, 2014 / 2:00 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Egypt approves unified landline and mobile telecoms licence

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CAIRO, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Egypt’s government approved on Wednesday a long-awaited plan to issue a unified landline and mobile telecoms licence, opening the way for fixed-line monopoly Telecom Egypt to offer mobile phone services.

The licence had been due to be activated on June 30 but that date passed without implementation. In May, Telecom Egypt agreed to pay 2.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($350 million) for permission to offer mobile services. It has been waiting for the details of the unified licence to be finalised.

Egypt’s three existing mobile service providers, Vodafone Egypt, Mobinil and Etisalat Egypt, have been eating away at Telecom Egypt’s business 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 to rival the other players in the sector.

It already owns a 45-percent stake in Vodafone Egypt, the leading communications player by customer numbers in the country of 86 million people.

Telecom Egypt was originally given a one year to sell its stake in Vodafone Egypt, once the unified licence was activated. The government said on Wednesday Telecom Egypt would now have to sell the stake by December 2015.

The government also set up a committee on Wednesday comprising representatives from the ministries of telecommunications, finance, investment, commerce and others, to look at the best way for Telecom Egypt to exit Vodafone Egypt. (Reporting by Lin Noueihed; editing by David Clarke)

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