An elusive agreement between Egypt's three mobile operators and the government has delayed the implementation of a unified licensing framework that would enable Telecom Egypt to launch MVNO services and allow the mobile operators to expand into the wireline market.
Egypt's authorities and the country's telecoms operators are pushing to increase the uptake and quality of broadband services in the country. In November the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT) announced plans to increase the country's internet penetration rate to 50% by the end of 2016, from 34% at present. The ministry also intended to add around 500,000 new internet users in the country by the end of 2015.
MCIT expects to add 1.5mn broadband subscribers by the end of 2016 and increase entry-level access speeds from 1Mbps to 2Mbps. Separately, government-backed Telecom Egypt (TE) reportedly aimed to replace copper cables with fibre optic cables for approximately 4mn households by the end of 2015. The move would allow TE to provide its subscribers with the latest communication services and techniques via boosting the role of fibre optic cables instead of the copper ones, along with installing multi-service access node. BMI is predicting strong and steady growth in the uptake of broadband services, including wireline and mobile broadband offering, through to 2020. Improvements to infrastructure will contribute to the strong growth.
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In Q415 Egypt's mobile market shrank by 1% y-o-y, with 93.98mn subscriptions at the end of December 2015. Significant discounting of inactive SIMs contributed to those results. Our outlook for the country's mobile market remains subdued. We predict growth of just 1.9% in the 12 months to December 2016 and, by 2020, we forecast the market to be serving 99.31mn subscriptions, yielding a penetration rate of 98.8%.
In the five years to 2020, we believe average annual growth for Egypt's 3G subscriber market will be around 11.9%. By the end of 2020, we expect more than 39.73mn 3G subscriptions, accounting for 40% of the total mobile market.
Telecom Egypt is the leading provider of broadband services, with the operator reporting an impressive 42.1% y-o-y increase in ADSL subscriptions in 2015. We predict that total broadband connections, including mobile broadband connections, will reach 9.46mn by 2020, equivalent to a penetration rate of 9.4%.
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