Separately, the regulator has extended applicants’ deadline for third national operator licence
State-owned operator Ethio Telecom is having an amazing run-up to the government’s promised sale of a stake in the telco. In February, Ethio Telecom said it would offer a 45% stake to foreign investors, up from the 40% it said it would offer in November 2022. However, exactly when is yet to be nailed down.
In July, Ethio Telecom reported it had doubled its annual profits, now there are two more significant developments.
First, Telecom Ethio announced the roll-out commercial 5G services in Addis Ababa after a trial in the country’s capital city and Adama, the regional capital of Oromia. Ethio Telecom said in a statement,: “Our company has commercialized its 5G service at 145 different sites in Addis Ababa and is ready to offer unlimited 5G data, 5G to the home, and a variety of 5G mobile packages to our esteemed customers.”
Safaricom Ethiopia, which entered the market in 2022, plans to deploy 4G and 5G mobile networks across the country, but there is no publicised timetable regarding 5G deployment.
Second, Israeli satellite tech firm, Gilat, has announced it will work with Ethio Telecom to upgrade the telco’s satellite infrastructure.
Gilat’s SkyEdge II-c VSAT network platform plus hundreds of Capricorn and Gemini VSATs will be used to improve 4G backhaul and enterprise communications for remoter regions.
Still touting for third national operator
The Ethiopian Communications Authority extended the deadline by which hopeful new entrants into the country’s mobile market must submit initial documents to be considered for a third national mobile licence.
The regulator said this was due to potential applicants requesting more time, having issued a Request for Qualification in late June. The new deadline is 6 October. The hunt for a third operator has been slow and convoluted: MTN Group made a bid in the initial call for applicants for national mobile licences in 2021.
Its bid was turned down on the ground of being too low and the regulator decided to restart the process.