On the back of its recent rebranding, Ethiopian monopoly telecoms provider Ethio-Telecom has announced the restructuring of tariffs for its mobile voice, mobile broadband and fixed line high speed services. With European telecoms giant France Telecom (FT) having taken over the management of the operator as part of a two-year contract with the Ethiopian government, Ethio-Telecom’s CEO Jean-Michel Latute said that the ultimate aim of introducing the new pricing structure for so many products was to ‘realise equitable access to all income groups, including the low income groups step by step, to allow them to benefit from modern services.’
For Ethio-Telecom’s residential mobile voice subscribers the company has revealed that it has removed regional zones for calls, and instead all calls will now be charged on a national basis, with both pre- and post-paid customers charged at ETB0.72 (USD0.04) per minute at peak hours (7am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday), while off-peak calls will be charged at ETB0.30 per minute. The rate will apply to both the operator’s 2G and 3G subscribers. Further, the cost of a new SIM card has been reduced, with customers wishing to sign up for a mobile service now to be charged ETB60 for the card, down from ETB80, which includes airtime worth ETB15. Replacements of lost or stolen SIM cards will, however, now cost customers more, with Ethio-Telecom increasing the charge from ETB15 to ETB45.
Customers of the operator’s CDMA 1xEV-DO-based mobile broadband service however face a slightly more restrictive change, with Ethio-Telecom revealing that it has discontinued its tariffs offering unlimited usage; as of 1 April 2011 the largest monthly data usage allowance on offer is 4GB per month, which costs ETB700 per month, with any additional usage charged at ETB0.35 per MB. Previously the telco had offered an unlimited usage EV-DO service at a cost of ETB4,000 per month. According to AllAfrica, not all of the operator’s customers are happy about the change, with it citing a local internet cafe operator that claimed the removal of an unlimited option could end up costing him more each month.
Ethio-Telecom meanwhile has also announced that it is to offer ADSL services to residential customers for the first time. Prices for the service start at ETB400 per month for a 512kbps connection with a 2GB monthly usage limit, while the telco’s top end residential fixed line broadband option offers 6GB of data per month at speeds of up to 2Mbps for ETB700. The operator has also addressed criticism regarding network issues, with Latute acknowledging that there continued to be complaints about slow internet connection speeds and the unavailability of internet services on most mobile handsets. The executive said that the operator was addressing the issue, noting: ‘Ethio-Telecom is increasing the security of internet traffic through a microwave system as a national backup plan, to cope with internet outages, that will be finished by August or September this year.’ It is understood that the telco aims to add to its existing fibre-optic links – which connect Port Sudan to Metema and Addis Ababa and Djibouti to Addis Ababa – with an additional line to be added to the Dijibouti route and another between Mombasa and the capital by the end of this month.