Communication Services

The Ethiopian Parliament enacted the Communications Service Proclamation in 2019 with the purpose of liberalization of the telecommunication sector that has been solely dominated by the government-owned public enterprise, Ethio-telecom, for the past decades. This page briefly discusses the major aspects of the proclamation.

Communications Service Proclamation No. 1148/2019 DOWNLOAD

Definition of the terms Communication Service and Telecommunications

Communication service is defined, under the proclamation, as a service offered to the public consisting of the dissemination or interchangeable of audio, video, or data content using telecommunications media, and of physical content using postal service, but doesn’t include broadcasting.

The term ‘telecommunications” is defined as an emission, transmission, or reception, through the agency of electricity or electromagnetism, of any sounds, signs, signals, writing, images or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, optical or electromagnetic systems, whether or not such sounds, signs, signals, writing, images or intelligence have been subjected to rearrangement, computation or other processes by any means in the course of their transmission, emission, or reception.


Who regulates the Communications Service sector?

The Ethiopian Communications authority is the government organ having regulatory authority over the telecommunications sectors. Among others, it has the following powers:

  1. Issue license and supervise operators of communications service, and modify, renew, suspend, or revoke such license;
  2. Specify technical standards for the provision of communications services;
  3. Regulate tariffs relating to communications services;
  4. Regulate types of telecommunication equipment that may be connected to a telecommunication network;
  5. Authorize and supervise the use of the radio frequency spectrum in Ethiopia for commercial and government users;
  6. Establish a national telecommunications numbering plan, allocate and administer numbers, and supervise their efficient use;
  7. Manage internet protocol addresses and domain names (.et);
  8. Safeguard the interest of consumers of communication services; and
  9. Investigate complaints and resolve disputes between communication service operators, and between consumers and communication service operators


Who provides communication service and telecommunications service?

Telecommunications service is directly provided to the public by a licensee, a telecommunication operator. The operator may also provide the services to other telecommunication operators.

What are the conditions to obtain a license?

Both foreign and domestic investors are allowed to engage in the ownership of a telecommunications operator or telecommunications network. The number of new entrants, the conditions, and the time for issuance of the licenses, are determined by the government. Currently, the government has decided to issue two telecommunication operator licenses, and the licensing is underway.

The licenses for the operation and provision of communications service are issued by way of class or individual licenses based on such terms and conditions as the Ethiopian Communications Authority may from time to time determine. The authority may set the following conditions:

  1. That the licensee must provide services to the entire territory of the nation at non-discriminatory prices;
  2. That the licensee must publish, in a format specified in the license, the charges and other terms and conditions that are applicable to the service provided;
  3. Criteria for setting tariffs for the service to be provided; and
  4. That the licensee should comply with such technical standards or requirements including service performance standards as may be specified in the license.