June 30, 2007
O brave new world
The morning after flying into Khartoum, I dropped into the nearest Mobitel store and signed up for one of their 'eeZee' accounts. Five minutes later, one sim card, one working account with - wait for it - a full texting service.
Five minutes walk away from our new house are at least two cafés bathed in the rays of free wireless broadband connections.
We are currently choosing between a domestic 512kbps ADSL connection or two Sudatel MDSL laptop cards, offering connection speeds of up to 2.4Mb/s.
Right now, I am on what appears to be a nationwide, free 'Freenet' dial-up service - no registration, no request for a pre-application covering letter from your employer with accompanying approval from your sponsoring government department, no password. Just a three-figure phone number that anyone can use and a passable 46.6Kbps connection. Fine for text. And - as far as I can tell - no blog blockage.
Unless you have spent several years living with the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation and all its works, all of this probably means very little to you. For someone who has spent several years with ETC, it all seems to be too good to be true. I had even forgotten how to text.
As soon as I get my head around Sudan's new currency, I'll tell you how much all of it costs. Broadly, it seems to be just a little bit more expensive than what you would get in the UK/Europe/US, but way, way cheaper than anything on offer in Ethiopia.
Posted by aheavens at June 30, 2007 7:02 AM
yeah we were telling u about those EPRDF's when u were backing them. they are a bunch of thrives only thinking of their own profit asking 40,000 birr for internet. they could have made dial up internet free coz instead they made the country to be the last country with huge dial-up connection.
Posted by: ali seid at June 30, 2007 10:27 AM
It is really painful to think that the Sudanese are way ahead of us in telecommunications. What can I tell you, we have control freaks ruling the country and they love their communism.
Posted by: safiya at June 30, 2007 11:23 PM
Sudan supposed to be the access of evil not Ethiopia, go figure.
Posted by: Baheilu at July 1, 2007 3:11 AM
Got a question for you. Do you read "Ms. Manners" often and try to abide by what she says?
Call a spade a spade and call the government what you really think. The ETC operates exactly how Meles and the TPLF want it to.
The issue is CONTROL stupid, no disrespect.
Posted by: caleb at July 2, 2007 4:32 PM
Thanks soooo much for the contrast. It's almost as if you are still reporting on Ethiopia, except now without fear of being kicked out for speaking your mind....Or...does the fact that you kept the domain name actually means you still are reporting on Ethiopia?? Oh, us Ethiopians, with our conspiracy theories:)!!!
Love your stuff, keep it up.
Posted by: Binyam at July 2, 2007 5:46 PM
Forget broad band, recall...
During Mengistu's time when the telephone technician comes around your house, you have to hide your fancy touch button phone (probably smuggled in by an uncle from America). On the first sight of the "phone man", there will be a panic call "Tele is here, hide the phone, hide the phone...!!!" from somewhere the house. The old rotary phone is hastily brought out of its storage, dusted up and plugged in. Or else ... bye bye cute phone, bye byre GHz wireless phone, it will be confiscated.
Chew on that for a tid bit on the history of ETC. Probably, the regulation that allowed ETC to do this then, still exists. Thanks to the "new" broad band era it is not being enforced, until such date arrives that it will be needed for some obscure reason and will be dusted off the shelves. My suggestion, don't throw out the rotaries and forget broad band.
Posted by: TazzmaB at July 2, 2007 11:44 PM
Now probably you are out of harms way I hope you will keep on writing about Ethiopia.
It is so hurtful when the so called western observers tell Ethiopians we are having a good time. When you live in the middest of misery and if you are not affected by it you become desensitized. The western ambassadors who's countries interest is respected at the expedience of the Ethiopian people are fisting on the blood of the Ethiopian people.
The truth should come out.
Posted by: beles at July 3, 2007 2:57 AM
Well, telecom services in Sudan are way advanced than neighboring countries because of the open market in that sector. I was amazed by the availability of data services last time I went to Sudan, especially the PCI laptop cards which you can use anywhere in Khartoum.
Still, this is not a good reference in a city where 24 hour feed of electricity is not guaranteed.
PS. Thanks for the link.
Posted by: Ayman at July 4, 2007 9:19 PM
Now that you are not ion Ethiopia, why are you still holding back in calling a spade a spade?
Ethiopia is suffering and losing out a lot because of the iron grip on telecom by the government. The TPLF people/officials are too way backward thinking and still in the Maoist/Marxist mindset to allow freeer environment for telecom.
In the long run, I hope, Andrew, you pick this topic and continue to nudge people so that they force these backward old communists to relax.
Posted by: Garang Beshir at July 6, 2007 2:24 PM
Thanks Andrew. The last couple times I was in the country of South Sudan, as opposed to where you now reside, there were no hotels and we stayed in the AFEX camp in moldy canvas tents. We had cold dribbly showers, cold nasty food, heat, snakes, and scorpions. And we had super-fast wireless internet everywhere in the camp (including the bar, which is where everyone spent their time anyway). ETC is easily the worst thing about living in ADD. I agree with the others: now that you're safely on that side of the border, call a spade a spade. And keep posting!
Posted by: Marc at July 8, 2007 5:04 AM