Ethio-Telecom to Upgrade from 3G to 3G LTE Infrastruction Networks at an Estimated Cost of $1.5 Billion Dollars


By Yetneberk Tadele
Addis Fortune Staff Writer

Ethio-telecom Upgrade to Improve Speed, Quality

Addis Ababa, March 10, 2013 — Ethio-telecom will upgrade the current telecommunications infrastructure to 3G LTE (long-term evolution) networks, from the current 3G network. The upgrade is estimated to come at a cost of 1.5 billion dollars.

The state-owned telecom monopoly announced plans to divide the country into 11 infrastructure zones, two months ago, in order to better manage each network. The zones are to be distributed between Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corporation, which are presently bidding for the network and upgrade expansion project.

“Ethio-telecom is undertaking a technical evaluation of the proposals submitted by the two companies.” Mesfin Belachew (PhD), e-government directorate director at the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT), told Fortune.

3G LTE is a wireless broadband technology, designed to support roaming internet access using cell phones and handheld devices. Its structural design is based on an Internet Protocol (IP), and unlike many other cellular IPs, LTE supports browsing and downloading at 300 megabits a second.

The two-year project is aimed at doubling the existing 20 million mobile users by the 2014/15 fiscal year, and alleviating the present network problems.

In May 2012, ethio-telecom announced that it was re-launching its 3G network to allow its clients to benefit from a more efficient service. However, the 3G technology, which was expected to provide users with quality network service, failed to materialise.

“Network problems will greatly ease as soon as this new network becomes operational,” said Mesfin.

The current system creates poor quality service, since it does not have a smooth transition when a call transits from one vendor’s infrastructure to another’s.

Those currently considered as vendors in Ethiopia, are: Ericsson, Nokia, Siemens and ZTE; each have set up networks for ethio-telecom. However, the new zoning system, that is to be applied, will only allow for one sole vendor to give a service, within any given circle.

To date, there are around 16 circles, which cover limited areas and are occupied by a variety of vendors.

The new network is expected to be six times faster than the industry average 3G download speeds.

Source: Addis Fortune

Related News

USD 1.5 billion to be invested in 4G LTE

By Berhanu Fekade
March 9, 2013

Poised to double the current 20 million mobile phone subscribers in Ethiopia, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT)

is dealing with two Chinese companies (Huawei and ZTE) to invest in the most recent networking technology that, according to some unofficial estimates, is expected to be worth USD 1.5 billion.

According to Mesfin Belachew (Ph.D), e-government directorate director at MoCIT, the deal will be taking place with the two companies and expected to be finalized in two months. Asked about the amount of investment the ministry was considering, he declined to confirm the figure. However, he said that the amount would be similar with the previous investment made to networking infrastructure installed by ZTE. Yet, the procurement deal was ongoing, he said. The upcoming technology, according to Mesfin was known as the Long Term Evolution (LTE). LTE is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals. In Africa, only Nigeria and Libya are using 4G LTE.

Despite MoCIT’s aspirations of boosting ICT in the country, the recurrent interruption in the network was frustrating, including major enterprises in the metropolis. That, according to Mesfin, is a minor incident compared to the total size of the telecom infrastructure in the country. The most and obvious reason for the interruption are basically two. For one, the common damages of the fiber optic network are pertinent. The other reason Mesfin mentioned is the old network, commonly referred to as the “Nokia network”, which covers most of the western part of Addis Ababa. He said that is incompatible with the existing network structure. The lengthy ongoing deals are causing hindrances not to upgrade the outdated infrastructures.

The fiber optic network fails most of the time due to the daily cuts in the Ethio-Kenyan borders. As a remedy, MoCIT currently runs five alternative multiple fiber optic and satellite connections through Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya.

In a related news, ICT solutions provider AVAYA Company has opened an office here targeting communication tools and equipment. According to Hatem I. Hariri, AVAYA’s Africa managing director, his company’s presence is to serve the enterprise business with the most recent innovations of ICT.

Peter Gatcot, minister of state in MoCIT, opening a day-long forum organized by AVAYA, said smartphones, tablets PCs and other telecommunication tools were making their way into the workplace. “In fact, many employers are telling employees to ‘bring your own devices’”, he said.

AVAYA is eying small and medium enterprises here. Yet the company has not revealed its total investment outlay. AVAYA is expected to be engage in the ICT business though local ICT dealers mentioning some eight partners it has dealt with so far.

Source: The Reporter