State-owned incumbent Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC) has announced expansion and integration plans for its next generation mobile network, fixed line infrastructure and broadband services, African News reports. The operator has revealed it will carry out eleven separate projects, costing an estimated total of USD1.8 billion. Approximately USD1.5 billion of the funds for the expansion will come from a loan from Chinese hardware vendor ZTE; the remainder will come from the operator itself. ETC’s recently launched 3G services are expected to benefit from the investment. Currently the service is only available in ten districts of the capital Addis Ababa, and this will increase as part of the network development. It also plans to increase its capacity for mobile lines on its GSM-based infrastructure to 15 million, whilst expanding mobile coverage to reach 64% of the population by the end of 2009, and 85% by end-2010.
Broadband service, which is currently limited to just 16 areas of the country, is expected to be expanded to 500 areas, with almost 14,000 metres of fibre-optic cable set to be installed across the country. Public phones will also be increased, with the operator revealing the total in operation would reach 50,000 by the end of the project. ETC claims that once the projects are complete all kebeles (local administrative regions with populations between 5,000 and 10,000) will have access to telephone and internet services.