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Mon 30 Apr 2007 01:39 AM

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Egypt to get third mobile network

Etisalat to launch Egypt's first 3G mobile network on Tuesday.

A consortium led by United Arab Emirates company Etisalat will launch Egypt's third mobile phone network and the first using 3G technology on Tuesday, the government said on Sunday.

Etisalat, which paid 16.7 billion Egyptian pounds ($2.94 billion) for the licence last year, had planned to start operations in February but it took longer than expected to set up the masts for the network.

At launch, the Etisalat network will cover only Greater Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan, Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor and a few other Egyptian towns, the government said in a statement.

It will compete with Vodafone Egypt and Egyptian for Mobile Services, both of which have built up extensive customer bases over the years.

Vodafone has bought a 3G licence but has not yet started offering 3G services. Mobinil is considering buying one too.

The Ministry of Telecommunications said in the statement that Egypt now has 20 million mobile phone subscribers and the number is expected to grow to 40 million within four years. The country has a population of about 73 million people.

The other partners in the Etisalat consortium are the Egyptian Post Office, state-owned National Bank of Egypt and Commercial International Bank ($1=5.68 Egyptian pounds)

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