Telecom revenue bonanza

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The state owned telecom monopoly, Ethio Telecom (ET), has cashed in 5.6 billion birr total revenue in the first half of this Ethiopian fiscal year. This year’s first half revenue bonanza is 60 percent higher than that of last year’s same period performance. The telecom service provider also developed a new logo after 60 years of operation, as of February 8.
According to Jean Michel Latute, CEO of ET, revenue collected from mobile phones stands above other telecom services.
In the past six months (from July to December 2011) the revenue secured from mobile service has taken 66 percent from the total earnings and international connection followed by 21 percent.
Over 15 million customers have been using mobile services as of the end of December 2011, which has a 34 percent growth in 6 months time. Currently the fixed line users have reached 830 thousand while the Internet and data subscribers are 180 thousand, which has grown by 38 percent.
Currently, the numbers of ET SIM and voucher cards distributors is 50 while that of sales point in the country have reached 21,000.
Recently, the state telecom service monopoly has introduced several value added services that includes USSD codes, call back, credit transfer, GPRS, voicemail for postpaid mobile service subscribers.
“Other new telecom services will be introduced this budget year,” promised the CEO. 
The telecom officials said that they are working to deliver a quality network. The OPGW (Optical Ground Wire) project agreement the company sealed with Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation is part of the telecom service provider effort to improve the quality and reliability of optical fiber network from Addis Ababa–Galafi and Addis Ababa–Bahir Dar. It is part of the network expansion project that was signed between the two state enterprises in the beginning of this budget year.
The international traffic through the second Djibouti route, another through Kenya (Moyale) and the ongoing 982Km Ethio optical fiber rehabilitation project are part of the network expansion projects for international voice and data traffic.
Even though the state monopoly is undertaking huge expansion projects, officials said that optical fibre network being illegally cut by wrongdoers is becoming a major obstacle to give the expected telecom service throughout the country.
According to telecom officials, over 40 cut optical fibers have been reported within one month, which is highly affecting the quality of telecom service in the country.
ET has installed over 10,000Km underground optical fibre cable with 34 points in the country.
“Currently regional administrations have become responsible to control and safeguard the optical fibre’s safety,” said Abdurahim Ahmed, head of External Communication Department. 
On the other hand, due to the growth in the number of mobile phone users; the network is getting over crowded. The telecom provider has responded that it has been unable to install mobile transmission towers quickly in the cities.
“Lack of available plots in cities is part of the main problems for the firm to install new mobile towers that are needed to convene the network demand,” argued Abdurahim.
“For instance, a year ago, we have asked 70 plots from the Addis Ababa City Administration to erect the towers but we are still waiting for the approval of the city officials to install our transmission towers,” he explained.
ET, which had been called Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC) before France Telecom/ Orange took over the management for a two year contract, is one of the biggest state firms. It has earned a huge profit from various telecom services.
According to ET, the new logo that has an ‘e’ shape with blue, green and yellow color combination holds the ideas of: sharing fertility inspired by the green ecosystem of Ethiopia, sharing smiles, sharing a new story (a symbolic way to illustrate a new chapter for ET).“It is one important step of our evolution,” the telecom enterprise statement read.
And it has some ideas embedded in it;
“We are now more than a telecom company. Our company has a clear goal of allowing Ethiopian citizen to flourish and realize their full potential based on the principles of sharing,” CEO of ET said at the press conference held at the Sheraton Addis on Wednesday February 8.
In the past fiscal year it has earned over nine million birr gross profit, which is the first largest ever profit record in the history of the state monopoly.
The 60 year old former ET logo portraying a lion with a drum and sticks looked like symbols which  many of the state owned enterprises such as the flag carrier; Ethiopian Airlines, which has also changed a few years ago; Ethiopian Shipping Lines and Ethiopian Roads Authority. All those logos used by these state enterprises carry lions pointing their formation in the era of Emperor Haile Selassie I.