Pursuant to Article 6(7) of Communications Service Proclamation No. 1148/2019 (Proclamation), The Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) has powers and duties to license and supervise operators of Communications Service and modify, renew, suspend or revoke licenses. In accordance with Article 20 Sub-Articles (1) and (2) no person may operate a Communications Service without obtaining a license from the Authority. The Authority shall issue licenses for the operation and provision of Communications Service by way of class or individual licenses on such terms and conditions as the Authority may from time to time determine, including the term of the license.
As per Telecommunications Licensing Directive No. 792/2021, Appendices (A) to (C), the Authority issues the following individual, and class licenses:
- Unified Telecommunications Service License, a License issued by the Authority for the planning, building, operating, and maintaining of any mobile and fixed networks that includes switched networks, irrespective of media (wireline – copper, fiber, cable, wireless, satellite), international gateways, internet exchanges and technology capable of offering any electronic communication services including, but not limited to, voice inclusive of internet telephony, data, text, and video embracing the principles of technology and service neutrality anywhere within Ethiopia, and to send and receive Telecommunications services to and from outside Ethiopia.
- Internet Exchange Point (IXP) License, License issued by the Authority for the provision of a physical infrastructure through which Internet networks (Autonomous Systems) exchange traffic.
- Internet Service Provider License, a License issued by the Authority for the provision of Internet access or service including VoIP services using own or leased Infrastructure.
- Data Center Service Provider License, a License issued by the Authority for the provision of servicesand facility-related components or activities that support the implementation, maintenance, operation, and leasing of a data center, which is an environment that provides processing, storage, networking, management and the distribution of data.
- Hosting Service Provider License, a License issued by the Authority for the provision of application services dedicated to providing hosting services for a pool of remote, internet-based Information Technology resources to organizations and individuals either at a data center or collocation facility.
- Call Center Service License, a License issued by the Authority for the provision of receiving or transmitting enquiries by telephone, web or email to be outsourced to other service centers for customer interaction with third party agencies.
- Telecommunications Value Added Service License, a License issued by the Authority for the provision of non-core telecommunications services of network providers or value-added mobile, internet or fixed services, including premium rated services, as determined by the Authority from time to time.
- Virtual Internet Service Providers (VISP) License, a License issued by the Authority for the provision of internet access service to customers by leasing internet bandwidth or internet network equipment of a Unified Telecommunications Operator Licensee or Internet Service Provider.
- Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) License, a License issued by the Authority entitling the holder to install and use a network of VSATs for closed user groups operated for non-commercial private use.
- Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite (GMPCS) Landing Right Authorization, a landing right authorization issued by the Authority for the provision of satellite mobile voice, internet, and data services without having an infrastructure or network facility in Ethiopia.
- Private Networks and Closed User Group (CUG) Authorization, an authorization from the Authority to operate and use a Private Network within a Closed User Group in Ethiopia by obtaining telecommunications facilities from duly licensed Telecommunications operators to carry intra corporate data, voice, and video traffic. However, providers of Private Network Services cannot resell telecommunications services to the public.
- Satellite News Gathering (SNG) License, a License issued by the Authority for the operation of satellite news gathering equipment.
- Indoor Telecommunications Facilities Installation and Maintenance Works License, a License issued by the Authority for the installation or maintenance of Telecommunications cable, data network in a house, building, or campus and shall include installing Private Branch Exchange (PBX) and telephone distribution terminals.
- Outdoor Telecommunications Facilities Installation and Maintenance Works License, a License issued by the Authority for the installation and maintenance of Telecommunications towers, primary or secondary cables, last mile connectivity, optical fiber backbone, and fiber or fixed wireless networks establishing connectivity between the local exchange facility and the premises.
Radio Frequency Spectrum
Radio technologies use electromagnetic waves to send information in free space. Many different radio applications can be used at the same time by employing waves of different frequency. The radio spectrum is defined as that part of the electromagnetic spectrum at frequencies between 3 KHz and 300 GHz.
Radio frequency spectrum is one of the country’s key scarce natural resources of great economic value as a result of its direct application in telecommunications, broadcasting, military, and scientific research in addition to a range of other socioeconomic activities such as social services, law enforcement, education, healthcare, transportation, etc. As a result, many industries depend heavily on the efficient utilization of radio frequency spectrum.
Spectrum management is a combination of administrative and technical procedures necessary to ensure the efficient operation of radio communications equipment and services without causing interference to other radio systems. The goal of spectrum management is to maximize spectrum efficiency and minimize interference.
In accordance with Article 6(9) and 6(10) of the Communications Service Proclamation No. 1148/2019, the Ethiopian Communications Authority is mandated to authorize and supervise the use of the Radio Frequency Spectrum in Ethiopia for commercial and government users including the military and intelligence services, as well as to manage the notification, coordination and filing process of satellite orbital locations as per the framework of international radio frequency spectrum regulations.
In addition to the powers and duties stated above pursuant to Article 24 of the Proclamation, the Authority is responsible for the control, planning, administration, management, and licensing of the radio frequency spectrum in Ethiopia for both commercial and government users including the military and intelligence services. The Authority maintains, and periodically updates, the “National Table of Frequency Allocations” (NTFA), in line with the Radio Regulations of the International Telecommunication Union, and relevant regional agreements, and it will, in respect of radio frequency spectrum, protect the interest of Ethiopia internationally, and will be responsible for regional and global coordination of the use of radio frequency spectrum.
The Authority assigns frequencies to be used for Telecommunications Service, radiocommunication service, and for radio and television Broadcasting. It coordinates the use of frequencies, both locally and internationally, and monitor the proper use of same.
The Ethiopian Communications Authority is the sole lawful body in Ethiopia to manage and control the use of the radio frequency spectrum and matters relating to geo stationary, and non-geo stationary satellite orbit and has the power where it deems necessary to withdraw or suspense its use or prohibit any such use of frequencies.
No person shall use the Radio Frequency Spectrum without obtaining a License from the Authority, consistent with the Proclamation and Telecommunications Licensing Directive No. 792/2021, except for ISM bands in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz that will be used for Wi-Fi, RFID and other low-power short-range devices and services which are unlicensed.
In accordance with Articles 6(8), 22 and 23 of the Communications Service Proclamation No. 1148/2019, the Ethiopian Communications Authority is mandated to Regulate types of Telecommunications Equipment that may be connected to a Telecommunications Network; determine technical standards regarding Radiocommunications and Telecommunications Equipment including customer premises equipment. The Authority may, by public notice, specify any Radiocommunications and Telecommunications Equipment that requires the Authority’s approval before it may be connected to a telecommunications system. The Authority shall, at the request of licensed service providers, equipment manufacturers or suppliers, conduct type approval tests and issue certificates therefore in respect of Radiocommunications and Telecommunications Equipment and facilities to be used in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
When approving types of Radiocommunications and Telecommunications Equipment, the Authority shall consider the following criteria in approving types of Radiocommunications and Telecommunications Equipment:
- Safety to life and health;
- Maintenance of the Telecommunications Network including conditions regarding data protection;
- Electromagnetic compatibility;
- Appropriate use of electromagnetic frequency spectrum;
- Interoperability between the Telecommunications Equipment and the Telecommunications Network; and
- Other considerations that the Authority may determine by Directives.
It is prohibited to manufacture, import, or distribute, without obtaining prior approval, Radiocommunications and Telecommunications Equipment that requires the approval of the Authority. However, no license shall be required for the use of equipment by the police, national defense force or any other services directly employed by the government for national security.
The Authority may permit the importation and use of Radiocommunications and Telecommunications Equipment that has been approved by internationally recognized testing bodies that the Authority may designate by a Directive.
The following lists of Radiocommunications and Telecommunications Equipment, including, but not limited to, are among equipment requiring prior approval from the Authority. It is prohibited to manufacture, assemble, import or distribute, use or hold them without obtaining permit from the Authority:
b) Fax Machine
c) Corded Telephone
d) Cordless Telephone
e) CDMA Fixed Wireless Terminal
f) GSM/CDMA/WCDMA/2G/ 3G/ 4G/ 5G Mobile Terminals
g) Satellite Mobile Phones
h) ADSL Modems
i) EVDO and CDMA 1X USB Modems and Data cards
j) Network Switches
k) Network Routers
l) Wireless Access Points
m) Private Radio Communication Equipment/Land Mobile Radiocommunications Equipment
n) Tx/Rx Antennas
o) Short Range Devices (SRDs)
p) Telecom Network Switching and Transmission Equipment
q) VSAT Equipment and Accessories
r) Communications Server
s) ISDN Equipment
t) Other Telecom/ICT equipment to be connected to Telecommunication Infrastructure
Ethiopian Communications Authority is mandated to establish the national telecommunications numbering plan, allocate and administer numbers, and supervise efficient use thereof. Telecommunications Numbers will be administered as per provisions in Articles 27, 28, and 29 of the proclamation, National Telecommunications Numbering Plan developed by the Authority, and Telecommunications Numbering Directive No. 795/2021, as well as Number portability Directive No. 831/2021.
The Authority shall manage and regulate the use of numbering resources for the provision of Telecommunications Services and Information Services in Ethiopia. No person shall use numbering and addressing resources in Ethiopia except pursuant to authorization of the Authority and for the purposes permitted under the proclamation. All Telecommunications Operators or service providers shall be entitled to obtain numbering resources for the provision of Telecommunications Services pursuant to such Directives as the Authority may prescribe pursuant to the terms of the Proclamation. Applications for numbering resources are subject to one time assignment fee and recurring annual usage fees.
The Authority may reject, in whole or in part, of an application for the use of numbering resources in the event that:
a) The applicant is not a Telecommunications Operator;
b) The proposed use of numbering resources is not compatible with the National Numbering Plan;
c) The proposed use of numbering resources is inconsistent with the provisions of the Proclamation, the Authority’s Directives, or any other law then in force in Ethiopia;
d) The proposed use of numbering resources may pose a risk to national security or public order;
e) The applicant would not make timely or efficient use of numbering resources.
In addition to the provisions in Communications Service Proclamation, pursuant to Article 5(3) and Article 39 of the Electronic Transaction Proclamation No. 1205/2020, the Ethiopian Communication Authority shall have the powers and functions, as per the pertinent parts of the Proclamation, regulations thereto, and any other law, to administer and manage the domain name space. The Authority shall perform the following functions:
a) Administer and manage the .et domain name space;
b) Issue license and regulate registries;
c) Issue license and regulate registrars for the respective registries;
d) Ensure compliance by users with international best practices in the administration of the “.et” domain name space.
In accordance with Article 26 of the Communications Services Proclamation No. 1148/2019, the Ethiopian Communications Authority has powers and duties to ensure electronic commerce through the use of electronic signatures to lend authenticity and integrity to correspondence in any electronic medium. To carry out the responsibilities vested in it, ECA establishes and operates a Government (Public) Certification Authority (CA). The CA’s objectives, among others, will be to issue digital certificates using a secure encryption method. The public CA will play a critical role in how the internet will operate and allow for transparent, trusted transactions to take place online in Ethiopia by allowing websites, people, and devices to represent their authentic online identity. The digital certificates and verifiable small data files containing identity credentials will be used to protect information, encrypt billions of transactions, and enable secure communication.