ETC Expands Mobile Connection Capacity to 5.6 Million Lines in Ethiopia


The Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC) is to increase the capacity for its mobile service to about 5.6 million lines. The second phase of an expansion project covers the demand on 22 highways and 766 towns including Addis in three months time. Each time it expands ETC experiences congestion and has to expand more. The Ethiopian Government has resisted all calls to liberalize the market despite the fact that a liberalized market would meet this user demand more quickly.

Corporate Communications Manager Abdurahim Ahmed disclosed to The Daily Monitor that the interruption of mobile SIM Card distribution for the last few months was due to the congestion of network in the highways at major regional towns, including Addis Ababa including as a result of the optimization millennium mobile telephone project.

The first phase of mobile network expansion which was completed in September 2007 increased the capacity of connection to 2.2 million where as the total current customers connected by both post and prepaid lines were 1.8 million which is only 400,000 less than the total capacity of the network. Abdurahim said the expansion created congestion in major towns due to which launching the second phase of expansion project was necessitated.

"The second phase of the project raises the total network capacity to 5.6 million so that it will be possible to continue the distribution," he noted. Abdurahim said to him the highways those, which congested by mobile lines taken from Addis, will be given priority in this expansion project including the capital.

However, most major cities and towns congested by mobiles distributed in Addis. "For instance, if you take one of the highways Awassa, the network capacity is 100,000 but currently it is full after only selling 45,000. Hence, the rest 55,000 lines are taken from Addis. That is why the corporation is forced to stop offering SIM card before expansion had been completed," he explained.

The high ways which will get the mobile service within 2-3 months period including Addis Ababa are Awassa, Shashemene, Bahirdar, Mekele, Diredawa, Jijiga, Harar, Gonder Nekemt, Jimma, Dessie, Assela, Adama, Debermarkos, Bishoftu, Gambela, Assosa and Semra, according to the Communications Manager.

The distribution will be carried out by the six private and one government companies which are called "Mega Dealers." Abdurahim refuted rumours that the corporation was to raise price on both SIM and talking He said that the corporation may make reductions "Instead the question has to be the reduction of price that the corporation may review," he said. The sales prepaid mobile SIM card that was earlier managed by the corporation is being outsourced to private companies and one-government enterprise.

The current total connected subscribers of mobile telephone are 1.8 million and this excelled the fixed lines by 400,000.

The Daily Monitor