With local management having recently resumed control of Ethio Telecom after the conclusion of a management contract with France Telecom-Orange (FT-Orange), details of the telco’s new network management strategy have emerged. Local news portal Addis Fortune reports that the country’s monopoly telecoms provider is to divide the country into eleven infrastructure zones with a view to better managing its network in each area. With the move also expected to help simplify the procedure for procuring new equipment, such plans come amid continued complaints by subscribers of quality issues regarding the network. It is understood that these ‘circles’ will be created using a number of different parameters, including demography, customer base and geographical location, with the new system expected to allow only one vendor within each circle. Such a plan, Ethio Telecom has suggested, will allow it to ensure better operational management, while enabling it to improve maintenance times when there are network issues.
Further, these new zoning plans are also expected to assist the government with regard to the division of work between Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei, both of which are negotiating with the state regarding plans to bolster Ethio Telecom’s infrastructure. Ethio Telecom has proposed a two-year project aimed at expanding the network, with a view to doubling the number of mobile users in the country by 2014/15.
Bruno Duthoit, CEO of Ethio Telecom, has admitted that there are issues regarding network quality that need resolving, noting that increased subscriber numbers and traffic were the main reasons for the problems. It was noted that the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) had conducted a performance evaluation just prior to the end of FT-Orange’s management contract, in which it was awarded a score of 83%. In the evaluation it reportedly scored well in service coverage and penetration, but less impressively in service quality, which had yet to reach a satisfactory level. Mr Duthoit has pledged to fix such issues within the next six months.
In separate but related news, it has also been reported by the Addis Fortune that the government may introduce a bill which will force building developers and owners to allow Ethio Telecom to install wireless network antennas on their roofs. The development comes amid claims that the increased number of high-rise buildings in the capital are partly responsible for quality issues with the telco’s mobile infrastructure, with Abdurahim Ahmed, head of public relations department at Ethio Telecom, cited as saying: ‘The current telecom poles erected on the ground are almost becoming useless … Some are completely blocked by the buildings.’ It is understood the telco has identified some 217 locations in the capital where such problems exist, with building in 82 locations said to be the cause of serious infrastructure issues.