Ethiopia to charge Viber users, register phone apparatus

April 5, 2016

(Capital newspaper)

Using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications free of charge may no longer be possible as Ethio Telecom is in the process of implementing new technology that would charge users for services such as Viber and Whatsapp.

According to Andualem Admassie, CEO of the telecom company, a new technology called Policy Charge and Control system (PCC) will be implemented to control VoIP services that people use via the telecom operator’s network.

“We are not saying we will ban these services. We will implement this technology so that we can control the use of these services through our network,” the CEO stated. He also said that the technology would allow the telecom company charge for the VoIP services.

Although the use of VoIP applications is not technically free as it would still require the use of an internet connection provided by the telecom monopoly, Ethio Telecom has stated that it has been losing revenue due to the applications. Services provided by applications such as Viber, WeChat and Whatsapp are popular amongst people as they are a cheaper alternative to connecting with friends and families as compared to a direct call.

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To curb the inflow of untaxed mobile phone apparatus entering the country illegally, Ethio Telecom is also implementing another technology called Equipment Identity Register (EIR).

“This technology will have the capacity to not only shut down the sim-card but also stop the apparatus from working, it will be out of the network system completely. This system is also good because if a person’s phone is stolen, the owner can shut the system down so that the stolen phone cannot be used,” said Andualem.

The implementation of the technology expected to be in effect as soon as within weeks will mean that phones that came into the country without being taxed, may not be able to function.

“Once this technology is implemented, shops that sell phone apparatus and distributors that have phones in their possession that have entered the country illegally will become useless because they will not work. With regards to the phones that are already in the hands of our customers, we are discussing if we should buy new mobiles and provide it to them or leave the ones that are already in use and focus on the new phones entering the country,” Andualem also said.

The CEO further underlined that before the technology is implemented, there will be discussions held with stakeholders to make sure the move is understood clearly.

Ethio Telecom (et) has targeted to amass 38 billion birr of gross revenue in the current budget year. According to its half-year performance, the enterprise has amassed 10.09 billion birr of gross profit, meeting 111 percent of its target.

Aiming to accumulate significantly more revenue than its 21.5 billion intake in the past budget year, the enterprise is expanding the supply of mobile and landline phone apparatus. It also targets to boost mobile network access to 113 million people in the GTP II period, while the actual subscription is expected to be 91 million.

Broadband internet data subscription is projected to grow to 39 million by the end of GTP II, which currently stands at 3.2 million. Comparing with the end of the past year the broadband internet users have significantly increased in the first six months of the current budget year.

Until June 2015 the number of broadband internet subscribers was 1.9 million. Mobile internet data coverage will also reportedly grow from 8.5 million to 16.9 million users, while overall internet data coverage is forecasted to reach 10 percent from 3.3 percentage of the end of last GTP.

The technology that would see VoIP service users charged is expected to be implemented within the next couple of months.



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  1. Dawit

    I guess North Korea is coming to Ethiopia. What the government doesn’t know is that it is bad enough that we are where we are now, they are adding more fuel to the burning problem by aggravating more the people.

    Definitely this is coming from Debresion who is eyeing the PM position, which is pursued at the same time by the foreign minister Tewedros.

    At the end, it will be the people against those power thirsty individuals.

  2. Kebatu telele

    Poor decision from Ethiopia telecom, instead of increasing revenue by expanding the the customer base trying to gain mediocre gain at the expense of public hatred is a complete non-sense. I wonder if we live on the same planet, I was a proud supporter of EPRDF for years but the poor decisions that keep flowing these couple of years, I came to the sombre conclusion that the real revolutionaries are gone and we are left with a bunch incompetent, selfish, short sighted, and most of all corrupt individuals. The future is not bright anymore for me.