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Ethiopia gears up to roll out LTE

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Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, could have a Long Term Evolution (LTE) offering soon, according to an announcement by the African country’s monopoly telco provider Ethio Telecom.

In a press statement, the firm has said it is finalising negotiations with equipment vendors for a major network expansion and upgrade to support the introduction of LTE in Addis Ababa, 3.5G HSPA+ in ‘all big cities’, and ‘universal internet access’ in a project planned to be completed ‘by 2015’.

“We have also developed new products and services to offer to enterprise customers such as business mobile, machine to machine business solution and 3G VPN, and upcoming products such as hybrid business mobile, GPRS and prepaid roaming services,” said Bruno Duthoit, chief executive officer at Ethio Telecom.

“However we believe that these efforts are not quite enough and we have a long way to go to reach the level of customer satisfaction we aim to,” Duthoit added.

The East African country is one of the most untapped telecommunication markets in the world.

According to the World Bank, Ethiopia has an estimated population of 82 million, making it the third largest country in Africa after Egypt and Nigeria. However, Ethiopia only has 16.8 million mobile subscribers, says Informa Telecoms & Media research.

Experts say the country’s low mobile penetration rate is due to Ethio Telecom’s monopoly grip on the market.

ITWeb Africa learnt earlier this year that telcos such as MTN and Vodacom have expressed interest in entering Ethiopia’s market, but these companies are not allowed to have telecoms licences in the nation.

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