Ethio Telecom expands 4G with Huawei, plans 5G for 2022

Ethio Telecom expands 4G with Huawei, plans 5G for 2022

20 April 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Huawei has secured the business for the latest expansion of 4G services in Ethiopia’s monopoly operator, Ethio Telecom.

The Chinese company is the main contractor to the roll-out of LTE in the east of the country. Its rival, ZTE, has already installed 4G services in six cities around the capital, Addis Ababa, but not in the capital itself, Capacity understands.  

Ethio Telecom’s monopoly is set to be broken within the coming months: the regulator has set next Monday as the deadline for applications for two new telecoms licences.

Frehiwot Tamiru (pictured), CEO of Ethio Telecom, said the move “opens a new chapter and brings an immediate impact on congested areas of telecom service”.

Meanwhile the Ethiopian Herald newspaper has reported the CEO saying Ethio Telecom plans to launch 5G services in 2022 — but it gave no further details.

Companies among those likely to bid for the much-delayed new licences include a Vodafone consortium, involving its African partners Safaricom and Vodacom, plus MTN from South Africa. Orange might bid, though some suggest it is more interested in shares in Ethio Telecom, for which it once had a management contract.

Ethio Telecom said about the new 4G areas: “Given the reliability, high bandwidth and high-speed features of LTE Advanced services, we hope that it will enable and empower our customers to digitize their services, increase productivity and improve their experiences.”

The company said its 4G plans were “among the major strategic initiatives” it is planning. “Accordingly, we will be launching similar services in other parts of the country, for which preparation works are underway.”

Chen Mingliang, CEO of Huawei’s Ethiopian operation, said: “Our delivery teams worked day and night to meet the target. Regardless of all the challenges, today we are proud and rejoiced to bring you the best LTE Advanced service.”