The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) is in the process of completing commercial licenses for Egyptian satellite “Tiba 1” with the company responsible for its management.
Mustafa Abdel-Wahed, Acting Executive President of the Authority, said that it played an advisory role in launching the satellite in cooperation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), coordinating with the French side in the technical aspects and determining its orbits.
Abdel Wahed explained that the authority is currently discussing with the company responsible for the management and marketing of the satellite commercially owned by the state due to a decision from the Prime Minister- the frequencies of telecommunications and Internet services and licensing prices, as well as the service prices provided to customers.
He pointed out that the new satellite will provide great speeds for the Internet, covering all governorates of the country, pointing out that the prices of satellite Internet services are usually higher than the cost of high-speed fiber-optic cables.
The Tiba-1 satellite, weighing 5.6 tonnes, was built by Airbus and Thales Alenia Space at a cost of more than €100m. It will remain in space for 15 years and was successfully launched days ago from the French Guiana base in South America.
The satellite will provide broadband internet services to individuals and businesses in Egypt and some North African and Nile Basin countries.
On the other hand, Abdel Wahed said that the fine imposed on “WE” and “Vodafone” telecommunication companies during the last period aimed at improving the quality of services, pointing out that the imposition of the fine was due to the sudden interruption of the service and not because of the quality of service reports issued by the authority monthly.
In addition, NTRA imposed a fine of EGP 10m on Vodafone and EGP 12m on WE for disconnecting their service from customers without notice. The two companies then compensated its customers once they were all located.
As for complaints, Abdel Wahed said that the authority receives 5,000 weekly complaints on mobile services on hotline 155, mostly related to the accuracy of bills, of which 98% are resolved.
He also revealed that the authority is considering activating the system of selling new mobile chips using the customer’s fingerprint inside the stores. It also makes sure to filter the subscribers’ databases monthly to reduce the spread of anonymous lines.
Abdel Wahed confirmed that he is reviewing the companies’ efforts in the audit of the data of line owners, without seeing the data because he is not legally entitled to that.
Responding to some companies’ objections on the methods of measuring the quality of telecommunications services, he said that the objection of operators to the measurements of the quality reports of the authority is logical, especially since the previous telecommunications licenses did not set the quality of standards accurately until the introduction of the license of 4G services in 2017.
In July, the Minister of Communications inaugurated the National Center for Measuring the Quality of Telecommunication Services with investments worth EGP 50m. The German company Rohde & Schwarz was hired to implement quality measurements with the support of its expertise in other countries including Britain, Italy, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria.
He said that 20% of customers from the four mobile companies use 4G technology, noting that the customer will not feel much of a difference in services without launching applications that affect their daily life.
“Egypt’s position in mobile data services is not bad,” he said, stressing that companies have exceeded targets set in the deployment of 4G technology.
Regarding the results of the World Radiocommunication Conference, he revealed the coordination between Arab and African countries on issues related to frequencies and prevention of interference with neighbouring markets. Most of the controversial issues on the conference agenda were also resolved.
On the participation of the authority in the exhibition, Abdel Wahed said that the focus will be on presenting methods of measuring the quality of telecommunications services in 81 regions nationwide by mobile cars, compared to about 40.
In addition, they will also work on raising awareness on the crimes stipulated in the Anti-IT Crimes Law No. 175 of 2018 and the mechanisms for making a formal complaint to the body.
Regarding the coverage of new cities and highways, he noted that NTRA has recently issued a tender to mobile operators to cover some of Upper Egypt’s roads with funding from the authority’s Universal Service Fund.
He ruled out the idea of increasing the mobile numbering to be 12 digits, stressing that the current numbering is enough for up to a billion mobile lines.
As for President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s notes at the Africa Investment Forum on the construction of 20,000 mobile towers, he confirmed that it is expected to establish a company specialised in launching mobile towers to apply for a license from the authority to meet that requirement.
It is noteworthy that Al-Sisi asked Minister of Communications Amr Talaat to launch 20,000 mobile towers within a year instead of 10 years.