Ethio Telecom CEO Andualem Admassie has revealed that his company will implement a tool allowing it to charge for over-the-top (OTT) services such as Viber and WhatsApp. According to Addis Insight, the Control System (PCC) will restrict applications that are freely using technology such as VoIP, though the executive has said it will not be put into use right away, noting: ‘Currently we own the technology but it doesn’t mean that we will immediately block [OTT] applications that are utilising our telecom infrastructure.’ Citing the fact that some countries, like China, had opted to negotiate with OTT providers on agreements under which such companies would pay infrastructure providers a percentage of their profit, Andualem added: ‘Therefore we have this option coupled with a bargaining power given that Ethio Telecom is the sole telecom service provider. If we couldn’t capitalise on this option, we will consider charging our customers.’
Alongside this, it has also been announced that Ethio Telecom is introducing Equipment Identity Registration (EIR) with a view to controlling the importation of untaxed mobile handsets. This technology allows the registration of a mobile phone’s serial number once a SIM card is inserted, with this information then stored in a database which would allow Ethio Telecom and customs and revenues authorities to track and block untaxed or stolen devices. Suspect devices can then be locked. It is understood the telco has initially introduced mobile handset registration for its own employees this week in a trial of the technology, though a timeframe for a wider rollout has not been confirmed.