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Thu 3 May 2007 11:58 AM

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Etisalat kicks off Egypt operation

UAE telco Etisalat has soft launched Egypt's third mobile phone network this week, making it the first operator to launch 3G in the populous North African country.

UAE telco Etisalat has soft launched Egypt's third mobile phone network this week, making it the first operator to launch 3G in the populous North African country.

Etisalat, which paid US$2.94 billion for the licence last year, postponed its initial launch date of February after it encountered problems in deploying the network in certain areas, as well as in agreeing terms and conditions with incumbent operators Vodafone and Mobinil.

A number booking programme that commenced April 12 has seen 400,000 subscribers register for Etisalat's service, which has been rolled out to a geographical area substantially wider than required under the licence conditions.

At the time of launch, Etisalat will have deployed no less than 760 base stations, many of them 3G-capable, reflecting a rollout period of just six months. By the end of the year the operator expects the number of base stations to have swelled to 2,500 as it looks to extend coverage further and consolidate coverage in the areas in which it already offers services.

The Ministry of Telecommunications said in a statement the Egyptian mobile subscriber base is estimated to double over the next four years.

Etisalat owns 66% of the operation's shares, with the Egyptian Post Office, National Bank of Egypt and Commercial International Bank also having a stake in the operation.

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