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WiMax set for Egypt debut

Luxor and Naama Bay in Sharm El Sheikh look set to play host to the first commercial WiMax deployments in Egypt.

Luxor and Naama Bay in Sharm El Sheikh look set to play host to the first commercial WiMax deployments in Egypt. The Emerging Markets Group (EMG) — an international development consulting firm — has selected two ISPs, EgyNet and TE Data, to develop the planned WiMax networks.

The new deployments are intended to improve and extend internet connectivity within the Egyptian tourism sector. The managers of the ‘While in Egypt Stay Connected Project,’ which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and linked to EMG, plan to do exactly what their explicative name suggests.

The project managers believe that there are significant connectivity gaps in the high visibility tourist areas of Luxor and Namaa Bay, and claim that filling this void with a broadband wireless outdoor metropolitan area network will help to boost economic growth.

EgyNet and TE Data will develop the first wireless outdoor networks for commercial application of WiMax technology in Egypt, delivering high-speed internet access to hotels, businesses and end-users. EgyNet will develop the network in Naama Bay and TE Data will take on a similar role in Luxor. The networks are expected to be operational by the middle of May 2007.

The National Regulatory Telecommunications Authority has agreed to provide a demonstration licence for WiMax in the 3.5GHz spectrum for this project. The licence will support the wireless hotspots in both locations, and is complementary to the new 3G licences awarded to Etisalat and Vodafone.

The ‘While in Egypt Stay Connected’ project is sponsored by the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and IT (MCIT) and financed by USAID. EMG is the prime contractor for the project.

Licensing issues across the region are now being resolved, and observers expect WiMax rollouts to start in earnest over the next two years.

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