Ethiopia Telecom, the now-private incumbent telco in Ethiopia, has signed a $25m deal with Hughes Network Systems to deliver broadband data services countrywide. This deal follows closely on the heals of a similar deal with ChinaCast, to provide the same, Direcway broadband satellite network service.
As wireline communications around the country are far from comprehensive, Tesfaye Biru, managing director of Ethiopia Telecommunications Corporation commented, “Satellite is the only solution that allows us to provide digital, always-on, reliable service no matter where our customers are”.
One of the first Ethiopian projects is the creation of a national distance learning network, SchoolNet, connecting schools across Ethiopia. Biru says “The DIRECWAY broadband satellite solution allows Ethiopia to expand its national commitment to provide quality education to all our students by reaching our 28.7 million school age children nationwide with the latest in educational tools.”
A valiant pursuit, but given their low level of funding and lack on consistent electricity supply, it is not clear what equipment will be at the receiving end of the signals at the schools. But with the right backing and support, this method of providing widespread education could potentially change a countries future.
They plan to begin network installation in June and are scheduled to complete by year end 2004.