The Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, in partnership with Cisco, Business Connection and Dimension Data have officially launched the eagerly awaited USD26.6m broadband internet and broadband VSAT network projects in Addis Ababa.

The newly inaugurated ICT project-the first of its kind in the country is expected to greatly enhance the face of telecommunications in the horn of Africa. The broadband VSAT, is the first phase of the broadband network projects.

The schoolnet, one of the first previously launched broadband VSAT sub-projects has already benefited more than 450 high schools and higher learning institution in the country.

"This new project will help the Ethiopian society including the rural community to get access to knowledge and improve skills and development in the country,' said Dr Kassau Yilala, minister of infrastructure.

The broadband VSAT, the latest ICT initiative in Ethiopia, would help create the capacity to use ATM switch and internet gateway technology.

Hence, the application of distance learning, corporate communication and telemedicine would be easily interlinked with their branches and other organizations through high speed voice data, internet and video services.

The broadband internet network has a nationwide presence at a total of 16 points, eight of which are in Addis Ababa and the rest in the major regional towns.

Ethiopia's broadband internet is a leap forward into the ICT technology and forms part of the government's vision of building an informed society before 2010.

Ethiopia's incumbent remains the sole provider of internet connectivity and there are no current plans to privatise the company.