Egypt's three established mobile phone operators have declined to buy fourth-generation (4G) service licences, two Egyptian telecoms officials told Reuters on Thursday.
The companies, Vodafone, Orange and Etisalat, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The Egyptian officials declined to be named as no official announcement had yet been made.
The Egyptian government is selling four 4G licenses as part of a long-awaited plan to reform the telecoms sector and Thursday was the deadline for the three mobile companies to respond to the government's offer.
Egypt gave companies that already operate in the country priority in obtaining 4G licences but has said it will launch an international tender should any of them decline the offer.
Telecom Egypt, the country's fixed-line monopoly, last month acquired its 4G licence at a cost of 7.08 billion Egyptian pounds ($797 million). The move will allow it to enter the mobile phone market directly for the first time.
But the three established mobile operators objected to some licence terms, which the government revised last month.
Kuwaiti mobile operator Zain, China Telecom, Saudi Telecom and Lebara KSA have all expressed an interest in acquiring Egyptian 4G licences should the established carriers reject them.