Ethio Telecom has expanded its 4G coverage to six new regions in Ethiopia while at the same time pledging to extend this reach further in the near future.
Xinhua News Agency reported that during February, the towns of Adama, Awash Melkasa, Bishoftu, Dukem, Gelan and Mojo received 4G coverage. Ethio Telecom’s vendor partner ZTE stated that additional urban hubs would be connected within the next three months, noting that until recently, 4G had only been available in the capital Addis Ababa.
Ethio Telecom described its push to deliver 4G to regional towns as one of its “major strategic initiatives”. The move comes as the Ethiopian Communications Authority prepares to issue two new mobile operating licences to boost competition in a market that Ethio Telecom has long monopolised.
Safaricom last week claimed to have made the shortlist of six candidates for one of the new licences, prompting the ECA to shoot down the suggestion. Local media has reported that new entrants will be pushed – or possibly required – to lease infrastructure from Ethio Telecom.
While this would enable newcomers to offer 4G from launch in the newly covered areas, the World Bank recently cautioned against any move that weighted the playing field in favour of the state-owned incumbent.
Regardless of Ethiopia’s infrastructure leasing policies, would-be newcomers still have over a month to apply for a licence, giving Ethio Telecom a substantial lead in terms of its data deployment.