Ethio Telecom launches 5G network

Upgrade by Ethiopia’s telecom monopoly comes after international consortium buys license to operate in country

Addis Getachew   | 10.05.2022
Ethio Telecom launches 5G network Ethio Telecom launches 5G network. Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu - Anadolu Agency


aced with tougher competition from a major international operator, Ethiopian telecommunications service provider Ethio Telecom launched a 5G network Monday on a pre-commercial scale in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The launch follows wide ranging preparations made by the hitherto local monopoly in the past couple of months, including upgrading its 4G infrastructure to make it capable of accommodating the next generation network.

China’s Huawei Technologies partnered with the company to enable infrastructure upgrades in Ethiopia that allow for the adoption of 5G network services in the country, which first introduced telecommunication services 128 years ago, making the country the earliest in Africa to have adopted the technology.

“It is not for fantasy, but to optimize benefits from the opportunities brought about by the digital transformation that we have today adopted the 5G network,” said Frehiwot Tamiru, the CEO of Ethio Telecom, while launching the 5G services in front of a huge gathering of stakeholders.

“The 5G network will be availed at this stage at six zones (locations) in Addis Ababa, and in six months’ time, the service will be expanded across 120 zones in the city,” she said.

“I sensed you have been wondering why 5G while 4G has not been made totally accessible across the country,” she said. “The answer to this simply is we cannot afford to be left behind and the 4G will be expanded side by side with the 5G according to subscribers’ demands.”

“There are now 64 million subscribers across the nation,” she added.

Tougher competition

Last year, the Global Partnership for Ethiopia Consortium (GPEC), led by Kenya’s Safaricom, which was officially granted the first private telecommunication operator’s license, entered Ethiopia’s telecom service scene after it won a major bid to take part in the telecom service business in Ethiopia.

The global consortium planned to start operation with 4G network services and quickly introduce 5G after having acquired a 15-year telecom operation license for $850 million.

In 2018, the 5G network was first deployed for commercial services by Verizon. Only seven countries have introduced the 5G network in Africa, with Kenya and South Africa being the earliest adopters.

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