Ethiopian incumbent Ethio Telecom placed LTE at the heart of a strategy to fend off the pending launch of rival services by non-domestic companies, with plans to deploy the technology in major cities by mid-2020.

Authorities confirmed plans in July to break-up the country’s telecommunications monopoly and issue licences to two new entrants in Q1 2020. MTN Group, Orange and Vodacom were mooted to be among the likely contenders.

In a statement today (2 September), incumbent Ethio Telecom said 4G will be available in capital city Addis Ababa and other major regional cities. It plans to add capacity for 5 million more subscribers across the country as it prepares for a broader liberalisation of the nation’s telecoms market.

The 4G plan forms part of a three-year transformation strategy unveiled by Ethio Telecom in reaction to the government’s plans. Between July 2019 and 2022 the operator aims to improve customer experience and establish itself as a reputable brand. It also plans to boost staff training and education, improve operational efficiency and overhaul its service offering to include value-added services.

Ethio Telecom stated its goal is to increase its total subscriber base by 16 per cent to 50.46 million, which would take total telecom penetration to 50.5 per cent. It plans to open 73 additional shops (taking its total to 438) and engage 75,000 more partner distributors and retailers (for a total of 267,000).

All told, the operator expects to increase revenue from ETB36.3 billion ($1.2 billion) at end-June to ETB45.42 billion by 30 June 2020. It predicted 53 per cent of the figure would come from mobile voice; 33 per cent from data and internet; 9 per cent from international business; and 5 per cent from value-added services.