The state telecom giant, Ethio telecom, is embarking on an expansion plan in a bid to double the capacity and improve the quality of its services.
The expansion project is at the preliminary stage of selecting companies to undertake the expansion and analysing the magnitude of the expansion.
“It is too early to tell the cost of the project and its duration,” said Abdurahim Ahmed, corporate communications officer of Ethio telecom.
The move comes following the decline in capacity and quality of service that has led to customer dissatisfaction, according to Frehiwot Tamiru, the new CEO of the telecom monopoly.
“The current network is congested, juggling more than it can handle,” said Frehiwot.
The announcement was made at a press conference held by Frehiwot last Wednesday, August 22, 2018, where discounts on existing services were made public.
They included price reductions of 40pc on local mobile calls, 43pc on SMS service and 43pc on mobile data. Broadband internet services have also been reduced in a range between 30pc to 54pc. The adjustments came seven years after the last one.
The registration of mobile services, introduced last year, has also been removed.
“Unaffordable prices added to lower living standards and has been a source of despair for users,” said Frehiwot. “Customers spend over five percent of their monthly income on telecom services, which by international standards is too high.”
Ethio telecom, which provides close to 20 different services, has been taking measures to improve access and provision.
The company is terminating contracts with agents that retail the SIM cards to clamp down on illegal sales. The sale of SIM cards will be continued in hotels, restaurants and supermarkets in addition to ethio telecom’s 217 shops.
Electronic means of recharging credit to replace vouchers is also under development, as well as efforts to strengthen the human resource in regional offices.
Acknowledging poor quality of services, Frehiwot added that the telecom is buying equipment to ease network congestion.
Yihenew Wondie (PhD), assistant professor at the Addis Abeba University School of Electrical & Computer Engineering for over a decade, believes that plans to expand are timely as demand has surpassed the capacity of the core network.
“As prices are now reduced, there is bound to be even more congestion,” he said. “But the expansion should have a long-term outlook.”
Ethiopia had 16.4 million internet users with a penetration rate of 15.3pc as of December 2017. Neighbouring Kenya had an internet penetration rate of 85pc and 43.3 million users during the same period.
The introduction of telecommunications in Ethiopia dates back to the late 19th century. The Telephone, Telegraph & Postal Services agency was established in 1941, the Imperial Board of Telecommunications in 1952 and the Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation in 1996. It currently has around 15,000 employees.
The enterprise has been slated for partial privatisation, with the government retaining a majority share. Multiple international telecom providers have expressed interest in the company.
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