|Predecessors||Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation|
|Headquarters||Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|
|Key people||Andualem Admassie, CEO,
Mekuria Haile, Chairman of the Board, Debretsion Gebre Michael, Deputy PM and Minster of MCIT
Ethio Telecom, previously known as the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC), is an integrated telecommunications services provider in Ethiopia, providing internet and telephone services. Ethio Telecom is owned by the Ethiopian government and maintains a monopoly over all telecommunication servics in Ethiopia. Based in Addis Ababa, it is one of the "Big-5" group of state owned corporations in Ethiopia, along with Ethiopian Airlines, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Ethio-Insurance, and the Ethiopian Shipping Lines.
Ethio Telecom is managed by France Télécom, but is required to comply with Ethiopian Government orders. The government said it outsourced the management as ETC was not able to meet the demands of the fast-growing country. It also said that telecommunications services would not be privatized, at least not in the near future. Ethio Telecom generates a revenue of over US$ 300 million for the Ethiopian government, and was dubbed a "cash cow" by the current Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Originally a division of the Ministry of Post, Telephone and Telegraph, what would become the ETC was established as the Imperial Board of Telecommunications of Ethiopia (IBTE) by proclamation No. 131/52 in 1952. Under the Derg Regime, the IBTE was reorganized as the Ethiopian Telecommunications Service on October 1975, which was in turn reorganized on January 1981 as the Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority. On November 1996, the Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority became ETC by Council of Ministers regulation No. 10/1996. The subsequent Proclamation 49/1996 expanded the ETC's duties and responsibilities. For its international traffic links and communication services, ETC mainly uses its earth station at Sululta which transmits and receives to both Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean satellites.
In late 2006, the ETC signed an agreement worth US$1.5 billion with three Chinese companies, ZTE Corporation, Huawei Technologies and the Chinese International Telecommunication Construction Corporation, to upgrade and expand Ethiopian telecommunications services. This agreement will increase the number of mobile services from 1.5 million to 7 million, land line telephone services from 1 million to 4 million, and expansion of the fibre optic network, from the present 4,000 kilometers to 10,000 by 2010. It is part of a larger US$ 2.4 billion plan by the Ethiopian government to improve the country’s telecommunications infrastructure.
According to reports by the OpenNet Initiative and Freedom House, the Ethiopian government through Ethio Telecom imposes nationwide, politically motivated internet filtering. Under a 2012 law regulating the telecommunication industry, attempts by journalists to circumvent Ethio Telecom surveillance and censorship of the internet could be interpreted as a criminal offense carrying a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Most blocked sites are those run by Ethiopians in the diaspora who are highly critical of the government, however, Ethio Telecom has also intermittently blocked access to other sites. In 2008, the Committee to Protect Journalists site was blocked for several months after it reported the arrest and beating of the editor-in-chief of The Reporter. For almost two years following the 2005 elections, Ethio Telecom, which is also the sole telephone provider in the country, blocked mobile phone text-messaging. The government accused the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, the largest electoral opposition at the time, of coordinating anti-government demonstrations using text messages. Ethio Telecom resumed messaging service in September 2007.
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