Egypt mulls ways to develop mobile sector

CAIRO, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Egypt's new government is studying ways to develop the mobile telecoms sector, including the idea of issuing a licence for a fourth operator, though a decision will not be taken until the first quarter of 2013, the telecoms minister said on Tuesday.

As an alternative to a fourth licence, Hany Mahmoud said the government could work to develop the sector with the existing operators - Mobinil , Vodafone Egypt , and Etisalat Misr, a unit of UAE operator Etisalat .

"We are studying the whole telecommunications market and what we exactly need. Is it a new player or distributing things into the different players we have now? It's not clear yet and it will be finalised in the first quarter next year," Mahmoud told Reuters on the sidelines of a business conference in Cairo.

Mahmoud is responsible for the telecoms portfolio in the first government appointed by President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist elected earlier this year in Egypt's first democratic presidential election.

(Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)