Vodafone Egypt said on Tuesday it expected to add 100,000 mobile broadband customers in 2009, taking its total broadband client base to 160,000.
Chief Executive Officer Hatem Dowidar told Reuters this was a very high rate of growth in its broadband business, but that the pace of expansion would not impact service performance.
We are expecting an increase of 100,000 mobile data users by the end of the year, Dowidar said in an interview on the sidelines of an economic conference in Cairo.
Vodafone officials said the firm had 60,000 mobile broadband users at the end of 2008.
Analysts number broadband users at around 1 million, suggesting Vodafone Egypt had 10 percent or more of the market. This will give Vodafone a significant portion of market share for broadband in Egypt, said HC Brokerage's Nemat Choucri.
The broadband number refers to wireless Internet products for use with personal computers and is separate from access to the Internet via the firm's mobile phone accounts.
Mirroring the surge in mobile broadband users, a Vodafone official said 3.5 million customers accessed the Internet via mobile phones in August, versus 2.5 million in February.
The state's landline monopoly, Telecom Egypt, which holds a 45 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt, is the sole provider of fixed line Internet services in Egypt.
To expand mobile use beyond voice calls, Dowidar said Vodafone Egypt was looking to offer mobile money transfers in the country of 77 million, the Arab world's most populous state.
Such micro transactions would typically involve transfers of up to 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($910) between two mobile users.
We are offering a total communication solution, he said.
Telecom Egypt said in its second-quarter earnings release that Vodafone Egypt added 1.43 million subscribers to reach a total of 20.4 million by the end of June.
Egypt has more than 50 million active mobile phone subscriptions, but Dowidar estimated that second SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) or network cards, and phones account for 20 to 25 percent of that number as users exploit attractive on-network pricing.
He said the market would be saturated at 80 percent of the population, but said this percentage included secondary phones.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Richard Chang)