TE focuses on payphones

Telecom Egypt is planning to step up its focus on the country’s payphone sector in a bid to reverse five years of declining market share.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  May 8, 2004

Telecom Egypt is planning to step up its focus on the country’s payphone sector in a bid to reverse five years of declining market share. The telco, which has been losing ground to private operators, Menatel and Nile Telecom, since their entrance in 1998, is planning to expand the number of terminals it operates. It recently contracted three companies to increase its base of public cabins in different governorates across Egypt, and says it is in discussions about investing in an unnamed supplier that is planning to begin manufacturing terminals locally. “When we signed the agreement with the two private operators, it was agreed that Telecom Egypt would slow down its deployment of payphones and give a chance for both companies to grow,” says Akil Beshir, Telecom Egypt’s chairman. “But this is over now and we are planning to focus heavily on payphones, both in rural and urban areas,” he adds. The recently-struck deal will see Al Qods Trading Co., Al Meem Engineering Co. and MAS Contracting installing 3000 kiosks for Telecom Egypt, using prepaid smart cards. The move signals an attempt by the telco to buck the trend where North Africa’s incumbent operators have been losing share to private, more nimble payphone providers. According to research group, Arab Advisors, private companies now operate over 14,000 multi-service kiosks in Algeria, compared to Algérie Télécom’s 3000 coin-operated call boxes. In Egypt, Menatel now holds the highest market share, with 30,000 units. It is also aiming to cement its position this year with the introduction of per-second billing, a common tariff for local and national calls, and various value added services. Egypt is also a country where operators have fared better in the face of the region’s GSM boom, benefiting from users’ habit of receiving calls on their mobiles and making calls at their local payphone. “Morocco is the Arab World’s leading payphone market, size and usage wise. The country is followed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, UAE, Syria, Algeria, Bahrain and Qatar,” says Serene Zawaydeh, Arab Advisors Group’s senior research analyst. “On the other extreme lies Jordan, which has seen its two private payphone operators (ALO and JPP) close down and currently has no payphone service to speak of,” she says.

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