Your blackberry and mobile data in Addis Ababa

There are at least three ways to get mobile data in Ethiopia. They all require using an ETC sim-card (as far as I know, there are no data roaming agreements yet.)


You can now buy an EVDO USB modem for about ETB 3000 (a bit less than US$300).  There are two tarrifs – you can pay ETB 475 per month for up to 2GB download a month, or something astronomical for unlimited bandwidth.

The EVDO modem I have got does not take a SIM card – it has to be registered with ETC.

EVDO is much faster than the wired broadband internet available in Addis.

I haven’t worked out what happens when you reach your bandwidth cap – if you know, please tell us in the comments.

Mobile email using 3G

I am using a Nokia E71 for mobile email around Addis Ababa.  My set up is:

  • an unlocked Nokia E71
  • a pay as you go 3G sim card from ETC (costs about ETB 300)
  • RoadSync software to connect to my office Exchange Server

This means I am getting true “push” email – that is, new mail is pushed to my phone as they arrive.  You can get the sim cards from ETC offices (eg in Edna Mall) or from a number of mobile phone shops around town (eg on Bole Road next to the New York Supermarket).

The 3G sim card uses the same scratch cards for credit top up as my mobile phone.  The 3G data apparently costs ETB 0.20c per 1KB.  I reckon I top up about ETB 100 Birr every two weeks.

Using Psiloc Connect reduces the data charge.  It means that Roadsync accesses the data via wifi when there is a wifi signal available (we have wifi at home) and switches automatically to 3G when the wifi is out of range.

The setup for the 3G SIM card is:

– you need to dial 909 to register the SIM card

– the APN is “”

CDMA mobile data for laptops

Cheaper than EVDO with no monthly minimum fee, but much slower, is CDMA.

I have:

  • a Huawei EC 325 CDMA data modem (costs about ETB 2300)
  • a CDMA pay as you go SIM Card from ETC (costs about ETB 200)
  • my normal laptop with a USB port.

The connection is not fast broadband; but the speed isn’t bad. It is about 5 times quicker than dialup.  It is certainly good enough for checking email and surfing the web.  But it isn’t as fast as EVDO.

To top up, you put the little earpiece into the modem to hear the call, then dial 903.  Then choose 2, 1, 1, top up card number + #

The modem connection settings are:
Phone number: #777
Username: etc
password: etc

Moble data outside Addis Ababa

I have used my 3G phone and CDMA modems in Shashemane and in Awassa and they both worked well.  A friend of mine reports that they work in Sodo too.  I haven’t tried EVDO outside Addis Ababa yet.

There is no mobile data yet in Lalibela.

Please let me know in the comments if you find mobile data working anywhere else outside Addis.

Where to get the equipment or more advice

If you want detailed advice, speak to Enetie Bayabil,  +251 (0)911  60 71 98.  His shop is on Bole Road in the Getu Building, opposite the New York Supermarket (the place with the Statue of Liberty sign outside).

114 comments on “Your blackberry and mobile data in Addis Ababa”

  1. Hi there. I may relocate in Addis in the next months. I heard everything and its opposite when it comes to Internet access in Ethiopia. I currently connect on a GPRS in South Africa and the service is quite good though just a bit faster than dialup. Not costly at all. I will need to have more or less the same kind of access to update my website for expl.

    You mention you have a Wifi connection at home. Is it easy to get a subscription ? Which one do you have ? thx a lot. R.

  2. @Rami – wifi is very hard to get, and eye-wateringly expensive. I would stick to mobile data unless you are staying a long time.


  3. Thx for your prompt answer. I may stay in AA for three years. What I would need is a reliable dial-up line at home, or (ideally a broadband connection home (512k or half of that will do). Do you have any idea of the costs ? I heard skype was forbidden. Are other VoIP applications (msn…) are possible to use ? If I am confirmed for AA I will definitely contact you for those issues and other ones, if it is OK with you. Best regards. R.

  4. Great information, thanks for the post. My question is, can I purchase an unlocked Blackberry from the US and use it in Ethiopia? Will I get Blackberry push email if I get the ETC data plan? Also, what other phones can I buy besides the Nokia E71 that will allow for push email? Thanks

  5. Joseph – I’m afraid I don’t know. I’ve never seen anyone successfully use a blackberry (as opposed to S60 or Windows Mobile based machine) here. My guess (and it is only a guess) is that if it works on a vanilla 3G internet connection, it should work here too. But when I put my ETC 3G SIM card into my friend’s US T-mobile blackberry recently, the blackberry said the SIM card was not recognised. I am not sure if the US blackberry was not 3G/GSM, or was locked to T-mobile, or what.

  6. Iphones work just fine with the ETC 3g sim card, but you will definitely have to unlock your iphone. This is fairly easy to do, just google iphone dev team, they made program called yellowsnow. But the CDMA option that Owen mentioned is definitely the cheaper way to go for internet connection as compared to the 3g, but still nice to have the 3g option.

  7. I’ve got an unlocked Windows Mobile device that I plan to use with a ETC sim.
    Do you know the network settings so that i can configure the mobile internet on the device before arriving?
    I’m looking for AccessPoint address, username / password (if required).

    Owen replies: the settings are all in the blog post above.

  8. Can I buy a USB data modem for my laptop here in the U.S. (say at BestBuy) and put an ETC SIM card in it in Ethiopia? What kind of device do I need to make sure to have? Is it a matter of making sure it’s “unlocked” as was mentioned above with mobile devices?

    Owen replies: As far as I know you can use a generic CDMA modem with an ETC sim card. Also, my unlocked WDCMA (3G) phone is working fine with an ETC 3G sim card. The new EVDO modems don’t appear to have SIM cards, and I don’t know whether ETC would be able to register an imported one on their network.

  9. Does anyone know the GSM/3G frequency used by ETN? I suspect a US iPhone won’t work with 3G, as AT&T uses non-standard frequencies.

    Owen replies: I don’t know about frequencies, but a friend visiting from the US bought a 3G SIM card from ETC and it worked fine for both voice and data.

  10. Can we use cdma cards less than 500birr for evdo service in ethiopia or is it have to be only 500birr cdma cards?

    Owen replies: the EVDO modems all seem to have built-in SIM cards, not swappable SIMs. They have to be registered with ETC.

  11. I will be travelling to AA next month and I’m hoping to journal back to my school in Canada. I would like to send pictures and video but am not sure
    if this is a possibility due to the internet restrictions and capabilities. Does anyone have any suggestions what I should do. I’ll be there for 2 weeks and I will have a laptop. Do I go to an internet cafe?

  12. The last time I checked this site was on July 4,2009 ( Internet connection is better now when compared to last year. EVDO is the only connection that’s reliable when compared to the others, and Dial up connection is almost impossible for tourists and I don’t recommend it to anyone. The CDMA connection isn’t that much reliable and is expensive for its poor performance. I recommend EVDO for anyone who is interested in a somewhat “fast” internet connection, videos and downloads will eat up the bandwidth limit and you may end up paying for additional fees(0.4 birr per megabite) if you pass the 2GB bandwidth limit. The 3G simcard for the phone is quite expensive too, so I advice anyone using it not to use your phone to browse websites that don’t have simplified pages for mobile phone browsing. @thomas, Internet Cafe’s have low speed connection so that won’t be possible, and since you will be staying for 2 weeks, I don’t know if subscribing for the EVDO plan is a good idea either(because you should buy the USB modem before you can use the EVDO service and that costs about 250 dollars alone).

  13. i bought an EV-DO USB device a few months ago but i think i may have the wrong thing. a) it takes a sim card, which you said evdo devices do not have. b) i have to recharge it with the 903# like you were describing with the CDMA. what happened? everyone else who bought the same things seems to have much faster speeds. we bought it in the shop on the bottom floor of edna mall, and it came in an ev-do box with all the proper documents. did we really buy a CDMA? or am i using the evdo as a cdma and not know it. how do i connect to the evdo? how do i know and how do i get the ev-do with the subscription like you said?

    Owen replies:

    Andy: My guess is that you have bought a device that can do both EVDO and CDMA. (Lots of the ZTE devices can do both.) You need to register the EVDO part of the device with ETC (involves paying a modest fee to ETC) and then make sure you use the device as EVDO not CDMA – this may involve making sure you use the right software.

  14. We may be moving to AA if all goes well. I work from home and need a solid internet line. Couple quick questions about the EVDO. How often does it drop? Is the speed the same as a DSL? What would the approx cost be? Is it possible to work out of one of the hotels for an extended period of time?

    I appreciate any input or further information

    Owen replies: The EVDO is dropping more and more, to the point where it is becoming frustrating. The speed is a bit quicker than the 512kbs ETC DSL line. It costs ETB 475 birr per month. I don’t think you could work out of the hotels for an extended period, but you certainly could for a while.

  15. Does it drop a few times a week? Are there any other alternatives for the home user that provides the same speed?

    Owen replies: more like a few times per hour. You can get DSL at home but it is expensive.

  16. I will be travelling to Addis Ababa in a few weeks and I was wondering whether there are any data roaming options as yet. My cellphone provider here charges $50 for a 10MB roaming package which is really all I need. Please let me know what you have discovered.

    Owen replies: I’m almost certain there is no data roaming yet. You’ll need a local SIM card.

  17. My girlfriend has lost her cell phone in Addis. I want to buy her a blackberry to use over there, but I know that blackberry’s in Addis are around 500 us dollars. I can get them here for a 100. Can I purchase one here and send it to her to use there? If so what do I need to do to make it work there?

    Owen replies: Chris – I don’t know. I am assuming “here” is the US, which of course has only partly adopted international standards (eg GSM) for mobile telephony and the network operators are allowed a lot of power to restrict the way that consumers use their devices. If you bought an unlocked GSM blackberry of the kind you can buy elsewhere then you could buy a local SIM card for it in Ethiopia. But that would cost you more than $100 (which would probably be a network-subsidized price).

  18. HI,i have blackberry 7290.i have it unlocked and it is doing well. But i want to use is for internet where there is a wireless signal(eg, in addis ababa university campus). Is that possible?
    pleas reply, Thanks

  19. Jonny – are you getting blackberry push email and blackberry messenger to work? anyone else using an unlocked blackberry able to get your blackberry email on your phone with local Ethiopian sim card?

    1. Mark – No way is Sk*pe going to work on the so-called 3G bandwidth, even if it were legal (which it isn’t) and even if it were not blocked (which it is).

      You can’t even send an email using Gmail containing the word – your email will mysteriously not go.

  20. Owen, could you please tell us more about the (i)legallity of skype in Ethiopia. I used it when I was there in June and November last year, while using my laptop and free wifi at the hotels where I was staying. I experienced no problems. Was I breaking some Ethiopian law in that way?
    I may be moving to Addis for a longer period of time soon and would love to know if Skype will be an option for communicating with my family in Europe and West Africa (calling by phone on regular basis would be too expensive)

    Thank you

  21. Hi all,

    I have a blackberry 9700 and browsing works perfectly both on 3G SIM or just on any other that has the possibility of GPRS connection. GPRS connection is free now in ADDIS but needs to be configured by Tele. In the blackberry I use Opera mini and have put in an APN:

    However for push-email and blackberry messenger services there is no Blackberry Internet Service given by ETC which is absolutely required for these services. So the only thing I can do with my blackberry is just browse the web.

    I’m going tomorrow to talk to a technician at ETC headquarters about this, maybe if he has a solution I will be happy to post it here.


  22. Hi, I found reading your blog interesting and helpful Owen. I have just bought a ZTE USB modem here in Addis and finally managed to get it to work with my MacBook, there are two things that I am having problems with and wonder if anyone can give me some advice. I can’t work out how to top it up with the credit I have bought ( there is no visible earpiece/socket), also, every time i disconnect I loose all settings and have to start again each time i want to go online. Thanks

    1. @zebz – to top up, use a normal mobile phone. You’ll need to know the number of your USB modem.

      Call 903 on your normal mobile

      for amharic 1, english 2

      then press 1# (to recharge)

      the enter the phone number of your modem, then #

      press 1 to confirm that the phone number is correct

      then enter the scratch card number from the top up card

      Your settings problem depends what client software you are using to connect. I just use Windows network connections with my USB modem, and it works fine.


  23. Thanks Owen, that was really helpful.
    I hope you are enjoying Addis, my favourite city. If you get a chance, check out Addis Glow, a free monthly English language magazine that I run. You may find it interesting.
    All the best, Zebz
    Ps. The client software that I am using is the one that loads from the ZTE modem, I guess I’ll have to keep reloading until I find someone using a Mac who has found a solution. Anyway, thanks again.

  24. Hello every body,

    I have a brand new bb 9700 unlocked bought from Dubai and I am using a post paid sim card. My friends with post paid sim card are able to connect to internet (GPRS or Edge) with their “normal” phones; I have tried the configuration with APN but no results so Is it really possible with the bb?

    I’ve understood that without bb data plan, there is no push email; but at least is it possible to get internet through wi-fi web browsing with a 3G sim card?

    Please advise any option of having internet with bb…

    Many Thanks

  25. I have a good friend that lives in Ethiopia…not sure where abouts. He wants to be able to send photos from a blackberry to twitpic for his twitter account. He really does not care so much about the email or internet connection.

    What limitations for twitpic or twitvids does ETC place on transmission of photos and video through MMS?


    Owen replies: I’m pretty sure MMS does not work. He’ll need to put an ETC sim card in his blackberry (there is no international data roaming here) and use email for twitpic.

  26. I am using a Nokia E72 and all going well with 3G and Edge connections. Ethio telecom set up is much important. But once done, push emails for Gmail, Ethionet, etc is all much possible. Browsing as well possible. One other subject – Skype is working as well and yes, I do remember having problems with Skype about a year or two ago but now ok.

    Another thing is, when having to choose between using CDMA or EVDO, considering the following info:
    – CDMA gets connected with speed much higher than dial-up but you are charged by the minute. So, if you are connected for an hour, you will be charged for that long.
    – EVDO, much much faster than CDMA itself, equal to broadband connection. The thing here is, you can be connected for a whole day and you will only be charged for the amount you have uploaded or downloaded. For those interested in having long connection hours (office etc), you are likely better off with EVDO paying the monthly 465Birr than using CDMA.

    Another thing, when topping up your CDMA/EVDO accounts, filling in the green card required for 0912xxx, 0913xxx mobile numbers also works but the per minute charge is much higher than usual. So get to fill in the CDMA refil cards that are meant for this purpose. That way, your per minute charge is lowered.

    CDMA – works basically in all of North/East Ethiopian cities/towns. Following were locations I have used it : Debre Markos, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum, Mekele, Hawzien, Weldiya, Dessie,Debre Birhan, Logia, Semera, Awash, Harar, Dire Dawa. For South Ethiopia, I have worked with it in Mojo, Ziway, Awassa, Shashamane, Wolaita Sodo, Arbaminch, Yabelo, Dilla. Beyond that into the Omo Valley, it is not working yet.
    EVDO – haven’t yet tested it outside Addis.
    Mobile Internet on 3G and 2G connections works in almost all of North Ethiopia, including Lalibela (Lalibela where CDMA wasn’t working last I know). Harar, Awash and Dire Dawa area also have mobile internet. As for South, Ziway, Awassa, Wolaita Sodo, Arbaminch, Hosaina all have mobile internet coverage.



  27. Hi Osman and/or Owen,
    I am not sure I understand this part of Osman’s comment:
    “Another thing, when topping up your CDMA/EVDO accounts, filling in the green card required for 0912xxx, 0913xxx mobile numbers also works but the per minute charge is much higher than usual. So get to fill in the CDMA refil cards that are meant for this purpose.”

    Which ones are the CDMA refill cards? I have been using the green ones that I use for my phone as well (and I know there are the blue ones for phones as well). Are there refill cards especially for CDMA and, if yes, where do you get those?

    Thanks, Nele

  28. The refill cards especially for CDMA are blue ones similar to the blue moblie refill cards but this one has a phone apparatus picture on it and has the 75Birr value as indicated above.


  29. Hi Owen,

    I have a Nokia E63-1 and was wondering if the 3g frequency used in Ethiopia will work on my phone. I have listed below the frequency of the diffrent E63’s

    # E63-1 Quad-band EGSM 850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA 900/2100
    # E63-2 Quad-band EGSM 850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA 850/1900
    # E63-3 Quad-band EGSM 850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA 850/2100

    I have gone to ETC but to no avail, the techinicain instead told me not to use 3g as its not very reliable. Use gprs :) Are there any shops that can test to see if the 3g phonecard works in my hpine before actually buying one. Its pointless buying the 3g card onbly to discover that it wont work in my phone…!


  30. Just so others do not struggle as I did configuring their Blackberry to ETC’s network, hope the following information will be helpful.

    I have a Blackberry 9650 and bought a WCDMA SIM from ETC. However, the one page ‘instruction’ only said to add “” to the APN to activate ‘GPRS’. BTW, I believe they say “GPRS” loosely to also include all GSM Data protocols.

    Quick instruction:
    Options -> Advanced Options -> TCP/IP

    1) Activate the “APN Setting Enabled” checkbox:

    2) Activate the “APN Authentication Enabled” checkbox:
    username for APN: etc
    password for APN: etc


  31. Hi Owen..
    OK so I’ve read thru the comments, I’m not a techie, and need help. I’ve been in Addis 4 times since April and have borrowed a phone. This next trip I’d like to just use my own. In the states I have a 3gs I phone. If I unlock it, put in the local SIM card will I be able to use it as a phone and also send SMS and photo texts to the states?

    If not what phone do I need to do that?
    If I get the same phone you use Nokia E71 do I need to get a new phone number to make that work in Addis… sorry totally not a techie and need help

  32. Cherrie,

    I live in Addis and have a Iphone 3gs as well. If you unlock it and get a local 3g sim card it should work fine. Mine does. Keep in mind, however, that texting to the states is expensive and often the texts do not go through. I have not sent mms texts so I can’t give you much info on that. But as was said in an earlier post, the 3g connection is not very reliable. Edge is more reliable, but often things will not go through if file sizes are large. The 3g and Edge connections here are much slower than you would find in the states…I believe a max of 300kbs (compared to 2mbs in the US), but more along the 90kbs range, so that means a picture would take a long time, and often your browser or message service will time out. Other apps for internet hardly ever work. Facebook for iphone has only loaded for me once in the past two months. However, if you send in the evenings/early mornings or on Sundays things will go faster due to less demand.

    Also, keep in mind to get the 3g sim you will need to fill out the application, provide copies of your passport, and submit 2 passport photos. The cost is around 300 birr I think and comes with 15 birr preloaded.


  33. thanks Andy for the speedy reply.

    Ok so I have it straight on the Iphone 3GS, now what about if I purchase the nokia E71, unlocked and transfer my American cell number to that, then when I get to Addis, install a sim card, would I then be able to use FB, internet, get mail, and send text messages with photos?
    still not a techie,

  34. @Cherrie

    Lets start with MMS, I am almost 100% sure that MMS has not yet been incorporated on the ETC network, so MMS I dont think you going to send pictures to anyone, at least not via MMS.

    I am using Edge/GPRS on a Nokia E63 and its ok. I am using Nimbuzz, Palringo, Nokia Messaging, Emoze Push Email and some other programs and most of them are connected 24/7 especially the Push Email services, works great.

    About “sim cards” any simcard will work on basically any GSM phone nowadays as long as its not operator locked, so any unblocked phone will work, if the sim works then all services offered by that operator should work on your phone, ie internet, sms etc

    So instead of sending MMS you can install a push email service and send the pics via email or an email2sms service. With Palringo, Fring or Nimbuzz you can use Live Chat, Yahoo Chat, Aim, Google Talk, etc etc. You can also transfer pics and files in real time to whoever you chatting with.

    I dont know what you meant by, “…..transfer my American cell number to that,….” Your American Cell Number wotn work here unless you going for the int roaming option? Not a good idea!


  35. hi i have BB 8100 i can ` t use mobile internet service beause there is no connection. i tried to set on advanced option but the say, hey guys what do u advice me to get internet service from my phone and what about wireless???????

  36. @jalle

    You first need to buy an ETC simcard after that you will have to go to Ethiopian Telecommunication Office to get your simcard activated for the GPRS service, once that is done you will be able to use internet on your handset and it works with blackberry as well. I am not sure though if you BBM will work as you wont be on a data plan.
    When you reffering to wireless do you mean wireless internet using the EVDO service for your laptop correct.

  37. I am also able to use internet on my Blackberry. However, does anyone have any “tricks” on how to get push mail on your Blackberry in Ethiopia? Might not be possible since there are no BB data plans available?
    Anyone knows, if BB is planning to come to Ethiopia anytime soon?


  38. Hi,

    Some great information here. I have been living in Addis for just over a year and have, since the start, used both 3G GSM on my Android phone(s)and EVDO for home internet (recently with a Dovado router).

    To get both these the easiest thing to do is to go the the ETC office at the central station (La Gare) between Meskel square and Mexico – It is primarily a bus station now as no trains run. The ETC office is on the far left of the parking area as you enter. Take a copy of your passport and/or resident card, a few hundred Birr AND the EVDO stick you have bought (Must be unlocked – so do not bring one from the US unless you are sure it is clean :-)). They will sell you and activate a 3G GSM card, activate your EVDO and sell you the green and blue pre-paid cards all in one place.

    Where I live I only get GPRS on my phone but out and about I find it pretty useful – Google Maps works very well and is as up to date as the GTZ map of Addis. Outside Addis, mapping is extremely limited.

    EVDO is great sometimes and appaling at others. It seems like late afternoons in my part of Addis (Old Airport) is not worth even trying but in the morning and late evening I can sometimes get sustained download speeds approaching 1 Mbps – more than OK.

    I am not sure if it was mentioned above but 3G GSM is now much cheaper than it was – 400 Birr per Gbyte, no initial charge – On a couple of occasions I have succesfully used my phone as a wireless router for other people’s computers when helping them fix problems. It used to be prohibitively expensive, but no longer.

    Great to find this resource (Via Bradt updates BTW)

    Andrew from Addis

  39. Hey guys. I have BB 8800. I was very upset didn t work any internet service in addis beause it said no browser configeration. I asked and tried to get information but no one told me lastly inthis board I got some clue that was when it says no brouser configeration just leave it. What u do is to get internet service eimail push or chat, is just find on gogle or bolt a browser software for mobile like mini opera then instel on ur BB mobile via usb port from ur computer by breaking fire wall. That’s it. The BB browser still said no configaration so leave it just cliki on new insteled mini opera browser.u can get facebook, yahoo google yahoo messanger, cnn bbc or what ever u need.I am writing on this board with my phone BB 8800 normal sim card GSM edeje or gprs service with 0913 or 0921 sim cards. Cheers

  40. I am using all internet service face book yahoo, messenger yahoo google and all on mt my bb 8800 t_mobile. After long saffering by instoling mini opera browser on it cheers

  41. Hi Guys

    I hope someone can help me out, my husband is in the US Navy and is about to deploy to Ethiopia for the next 8 months. I am so worried about his cell phone access/use, he is going to be at a waterwell site so hes not going to be near to Addis or anywhere else I am assuming. We both have blackberrys (im in england and he is in the US) and we normally Blackberry message eachother or skype, can you tell me how this is going to happen when he is there? Or is this even possible? and If so, is it ridiculously expensive?

    I have been reading all of your updates but am still confused! Im sorry!

    1. Samantha

      When your husband gets to Addis, he needs to buy an ETC 3G SIM card for his blackberry. He’ll need his passport and a couple of hours to do that. You can buy them from the ETC offices near the railway station.

      Depending where he is stationed, it is possible that this 3G mobile will work. If so, you’ll be able to IM each other. I doubt if he will get a good enough bandwidth for you to be able to Skype using this connection, but it is worth a try as the bandwidth is often better out of Addis than in it.

  42. Hi there,

    I’ll be working/traveling in Ethiopia by way of the US for a few weeks… and starting to realize that I won’t be able to use my iphone much at all other than possible texting (.50 per) and wi fi, turning data roam and fetch data off so as to avoid high roam charges. And when I spoke with AT&T recently they said that unlocking my iphone is illegal or jailbreaking… if I do it I run the risk of my iphone being corrupted.

    I’m thinking to bring my iphone to use for minimal texting. Possibly for some wifi per above. I will be traveling with my laptop and try to make calls via Skype whenever possible though that is dependent upon what kind of internet access/wireless that we have. Addis should be ok, right? But it’s when we are in areas ie Lalibella, etc. that may be quite spotty perhaps.

    Are iphone users able to use Skype app there?




  43. Hi Owen,

    In Your response to Samantha, you mentioned she’d be able to IM.
    Do you mean on yahoo/msn messenger or the actual Blackberry Messenger?

  44. Hi Sarah,

    If you don’t jailbreak your iphone and use an ETC Sim card, then you won’t be able to use any of the mobile data features of the iphone at all, as Ethiopia does not participate in international data roaming. You will be able to use the other functions of the iphone–texting, calls and wifi, but keep in mind public access wifi is limited, and the speeds might not support things like skype.

    AT&T gave you some bad, self-serving information I’m afraid. It is not illegal to unlock or jailbreak your iphone, and a recent court judgement said as much. It will, however, void your warranty. That’s about it. AT&T just don’t want you to be able to use your phone in any way other than how they want you to. Jailbreaking and unlocking is extremely simple and afe, and will allow you to use your phone here if you want. Mine works great and I have had zero problems.

    I have only used skype with the iphone once through edge or 3G here and it was not really responsive. First, the 3G and edge speeds here are not what they are abroad so it has a difficult time maintaining a constant connection. Through wifi with EVDO it works great.

    Hope this helps somewhat.


  45. Hi all,

    Does anyone have experience setting up a CDMA router for the ETC network here in Addis and can share key settings or where one can go to sort out the problem? I have a TP-LINK TL-MR3420 but haven’t as yet been able to get it to connect successfully. Many thanks,


  46. I am working with NGO out in the sticks. CDMA has not yet reached. But we have GMS voice mobile so am I right in assuming GPRS should be there (albeit slower than CDMA)? Regarding configuring, do i just buy tariff as though I was buying CDMA, or do I stick with a voice tariff?

  47. what is the port number, gateway ip address, the DNS address, username and password to access my nokia C9 mobile phone in ethiopia.

  48. what is the port number, gateway ip address, the DNS address, username and password to access my nokia C9 mobile phone in ethiopia.

  49. There is GPRS service in Gambela region. I use it by my nokia 6086 it have WI-FI but there is no free wi-fi. I tried to setup my stream setting. Can you help me streaming setting to get youtube?

  50. Just back from a 3 week visit to Ethiopia. I found the Owen Abroad site very useful in planning for data connectivity, so here is my experience over the last few weeks:
    * I used an unlocked iPhone 4, purchased unlocked from the online Apple store in Ireland, not hacked;
    * I bought an ETC prepay 3G SIM card at their office close to the Railway Station in Addis Ababa. It cost 212 Birr and they activated it for data there and then. You need your passport and copies of your passport and visa;
    * I used the network settings described in the post on this site dated September 12th 2010 post by Alex Trebek;
    * This gave me 3G connectivity in Addis and Edge connectivity (slower) practically everywhere else in the country, including Gondor, Lalibella, Harar, Dire Dawa and Bahir Dar;
    * Edge was good enough to use the iPhone 4 to check email and surf to Internet sites set up for low bandwidth mobile access;
    * Where I had 3G connectivity I was able to set up a personal wifi hotspot with the iPhone 4 and use my iPad to surf the Internet and view normal sites;
    * The data cost was low. Over the 3 weeks I sent 23MB of cellular network data and received 124MB and this cost me around 100 Birr (less than 5 Euro);
    * So thanks again to all the contributors to this site and be confident that with the right phone and a bit of knowledge you can stay connected in Ethiopia;

    The trip was wonderful. People friendly and helpful and the landscape unbelievable. Definitely worth a trip.


  51. Follow up comment:
    * I forgot to say that the iPhone 4 uses a microsim and the ECT 3G SIM needs to be cut down to size to fit in the iPhone 4. You can buy up a puncher to transform the SIM to a microsim on eBay or lots of other sites on the Internet. Best to bring this with you to Ethiopia.


  52. Fasil,
    Thanks for your question. I did not try to use the mobile phone micro-sim in my iPad in Ethiopia. From reading information on the experience in the USA I note that Apple and the mobile carriers discourage the use of a phone micro-sim in an iPad, but that it is possible provided you change the APN settings on the iPad.

    One extra point I forgot in my November 29th postings: you need to bring passport size photos to the ETC office to get the 3G Sim card.


  53. Cut down Ethio Telecom SIM cards work fine for data on an iPAD. Just set up the same settings as you would on your phone.

    Officially the data cost is 400 Birr per GByte of traffic. I always seem to spend rather less than this.

    Just as an update on the EVDO situation – Prices have changed. You can now get three differnt deals: 300 Birr per month for 1Gbyte, 500 for 2 and 700 for 4 GB per month. When you go over within the month you need to top up as normal and it costs 350 Birr per Gbyte (actually 0.35 Birr per Mbyte so you just pay for what you use) once you have gone over your limit. To change your settings just go to an ETC office with ID card (or passport) and the number of your account – it takes about 1 minute.

    Andrew from Addis

  54. Brian and Andrew, thank you for your responses.
    From my understanding then, 400 Birr per Gbyte is for 3g service and 350 per Gbyte is for evdo.

    for the 3g service, does the money expire at the end of the month or until you use it up ?

    For evdo, must you buy one of the deals or can you just pay as you go ?

    These are for my parents, who will not be coming anywhere near the Gigabyte neighborhood :)

  55. The 3G service does not expire until you use it up – you charge the phone for telephone and 3G service at the same time – simply dial #805*# and then press call. Done.

    There is no pay as you go for EVDO. You need to buy a stick, go to ETC and give phococopy of ID card or Passport and visa. Then you need to charge EVDO by using your mobile phone. Instructions will be given when you register. If you go to the ETC office at the railway station (La Gare), the people are very helpful and knowedgeable.


  56. how can i use mobile internet in my divice blackberry 9105 pearl 3g there is available mobile network in addis ababa and also my sim card is activeted internet. But i can’t use internet. my mobile is already configurated so how can i get this service can you help me?

  57. Hi Owen,
    I read your article but found no info on how to actually use the 3G sim card on a BB? I have the small edge appear, not EDGE or 3G on the network icon.
    Also it won’t let me make voice calls and surf the net. Just got it, how long does it take to activate?

  58. Hi! I am wondering if a prepaid micro Sim can be purchased in Addis? I plan to take an unlocked iPhone4 to a friend there next week and want to be sure he can get the prepaid cards.
    Thank you.

  59. Hi Amy,
    I know you can get a prepaid 3G SIM card in Addis, but I am unsure if you can get a micro SIM. But you can cut down a SIM to a micro SIM using a punch tool or with a sharp knife and a template. Google “make a micro sim from a regular sim” to see what I mean. If you are not keen on DIY, it may be worth taking the SIM to some of the IT shops mentioned in this blog to see if they can make it into a micro SIM.
    Your friend will love the unlocked iPhone 4.

  60. Does anyone have experience using a blackberry in Addis? I’ll be there for 3 weeks and hope to use my blackberry bold to access data (BBM mostly). Any thoughts would be great. Thanks.

  61. Sparkle,
    I have used the blackberry on both trips I was there, but I could only get SMS and phone service working. I was never able to get data working no matter what I tried and even when the network on the phone clearly displayed “3G”.

    On a side note, from my experience there was a trick to get service at all (lots of times it would say only SOS service). To connect to the network properly, I would send an SMS text even though I had only SOS service. This would seem to establish a connection to the ETH MTN cell provider. Some times this didn’t work either so I had to then reboot the phone…. I also tried various attempts to turn off 3G service (use only 2G), research for network, etc…, but only had mild success and usually didn’t work for very long (few minutes). With the SMS method it seemed to work until I moved (transfer cell tower I assume).

    My local provider in US is ATT and I did not try to use an Ethiopian SIM card which I was thinking might work better, but my phone is locked.

    Sten and Amy

  62. Thanks Sten & Amy. I’ve had the exact same experience in past years! I was there 2 years ago and was able to get SMS to work – never could in the past. But I was using a Canadian Rogers SIM card. I was thinking of getting my phone unlocked, or purchasing a cheaper unlocked phone and buying an Ethiopian SIM card there. Just dont know if its worth doing that with my Blackberry or if I should just upgrade to an unlocked iPhone or Android as I was planning to any way.

  63. I am planing to to visit ethiopia in the nexct couple of months. I would like to know if i can use my unlocked iphone to use the Data. I am planing to teather my iphone to my laptop did any one tried that.
    can i buy evdo mdm outside of ethiopia and use it in ethiopia?
    thank you in advance

  64. I have a zte ac2726 cdma/evdo modem. The cdma part works fine. 3 days ago having taken out the cdma sim card I registered for evdo service, but when I try to connect i get a 678 remote computer didnt respond error message. It has the 15 birr that comes preloaded with the service but i dont want to add more until i know it works. Any help is appreciated.

  65. abdul, you can use an unlocked iphone as long as it has a sim card (gsm not cdma). You can buy a 3g sim card from et tele but you need to cut it to be a micro sim card. You can but a sim card cutter online -pretty cheap.

  66. Abdul,

    You can even get your SIM card cut here in Addis by going to the Apple shop (Opposite Beer Garden Hotel between Bole road and Edna Mall).

    I would be careful about buying teh EVDO modem outside Ethiopia in case it is one that Ethio Teecom cannot set up. They are cheaper now, around 1500 Birr.

  67. ETC’s service is visiblly progressing. These days however you cannot use the card u buy. Niether *805* nor 909 recieve recharging card numbers. It is causing people to loss many things evryday. Does it have any connection with *806* survice? As a strategy? I don’t know.

  68. @ Fasil, the error number 678 is if your device is not getting network, so either your number is not active or your evdo dongle needs to be unlocked. I can help you if you still didn’t solve it.


  69. Sol, thanks for the response. you are right they hadn’t turned it on; I made the mistake of going to the ETC office @ sidist kilo instead of the one at Legahar where they are better informed about EV-DO services.

  70. Hi, I just came to Addis, and got myself a 3G internet connection. This page really helps! The procedure is almost the same, but now, you also need 2 passport sized photos. At ETC’s EDNA Mall branch (3rd floor, and actually the next building to the mall), there is a photo studio downstairs, where they take your photo for 25 Bir (in 10 minutes).

  71. what is the port number, gateway ip address, the DNS address, username and password to access my nokia C9 mobile phone in ethiopia.

  72. Tena yistelign,

    I’m travelling to Etiopian next week and would like to know ….

     … where I can get a USB broadband stick and card for my laptop

    … and if there is a card that I could use for my samsung galaxy – for data and calls – and for my laptop as well

    Looking forward to your advice …. 


  73. I have blackberry 9000 smart phone it is not unlocked or not accept Ethiopian simcard .It says invalid sim and ask me unlock code mep but is trial option is zero (0) so how I can solve this problem?

  74. dear Sisay;
    either you have to go to mobile unlock er  center or you need to follow little tricky steps  

    Re: How to unlock a BB 9000?


    12-20-2010 03:12 AM

    First you need to purchase the Unlock Code for your BlackBerry bold 9000 from a trusted Vendor
    Instructions for unlocking Blackberry 9000 Bold

    1. Ensure a SIM Card is inserted
    2. Go to ‘Manage Connections’
    3. Click on ‘Turn All Connections Off’
    4. Go to ‘Options’
    5. Click on ‘Advanced Options’
    6. Click on ‘SIM Card’
    7. Type ‘MEPD’ (letters will not appear on-screen but a menu will pop up.)
    8. Type ‘MEP2′ (user will be prompted to enter MEP code)
    9. Enter the MEP2 code (CONFIRM you get “Code Accepted” message)
    i. *If you also have a MEP4 code, type ‘MEP4′ (you will be prompted to enter MEP code)
    ii. Enter the MEP4 code (CONFIRM you get “Code Accepted” message)

    10. Reboot device
    11. Go to ‘Manage Connections’
    12. Click on ‘Restore Connections’
    13. Device is now unlocked

  75. Actually now a days prices are:-
    CDMA= 177 BIRR
    3G= 212 BIRR
    GSM= 60 BIRR
    you have to have a copy of ur passport or ethiopian id with 2 photographs to get any of those sims.
    And if u use above what is alowed on EvDo It is charged 23 ethiopian cents per minute.

  76. Hi All,

    Did any one use skype/rebtel etc from their iphone/nokia/blackberry while they were in Addis Ababa? I’m planning on going to Addis in August and would like to make international calls on the data plan available.

    Thank you very much in advance.    

  77. Hi everyone,
    Does anyone know if you can get HD satellite decoder boxes here in Addis? i am about to replace my old system and would like to make the most of the HD TV.

  78. Nine, (if this is still of use to you) I am using a Samsung Galaxy2 with a 3G sim card from ETC and get good data and phone calls

  79. Hi,

     I am an expat in Addis.I had a problem with my new Motorola Atrix 2 Android fone. it was bought from Dubai on the way to Addis .
    I was not able to connect to net. I bought a sim card from Addis..the sim was 3G and post-paid. I tried to get the connection using the instructions on many sites. Sadly even motorola’s official site doesn’t help in anyway. I was so desperate when i came across this site.
    Even if you haven’t given any answers to my problem direcltly, it helped me in getting the APN number for ethionet. That was the data required i think. I will give the steps i took to get the net conn finally.I hope it would be of use to someone.

    1. Go to Menu->Settings->wireless&Networks->mobile networks-> network change to automatic.
    operator selection->select automatically

    c.access point names(APN) ->touch on menu below screen, you will get a new APN ->select will get a screen with lot of fields.fill in the following data in that.
    name ->ethiotel;.  APN->
    leave all other fields blank.
    I turned off the phone and turned it on again..ta-da….it worked.i am able to connect to FB,google n all the sites…

    thanks a lot for the help.
    after i did this  seting

  80. Hoping for help figuring out iphone data. I have just arrived in Ethiopia. I have purchased an ETC sim card and loaded it into my unlocked iPhone 4S. I get voice service just fine, but no data…I dont even get the edge or 3G icon. One of the Ethiopians I know has the service just fine on his phone. I have changed the APN to with no effect. THe ETC office checked and told me that I should be getting data just fine.

    Any advice anyone can give would be appreciated. THanks  

  81. @Charles, You will need to purchase 3G SIM card which costs around 250BIRR. You most likely have regular SIM which does not have 3G functionality. 

  82. I have a usb modem, what SIM card should I buy to access Internet?
    I already have a ethiotel simcard. If I recharge it will it work or I have to activate by filling form.

  83. @Abu. If your usb modem has a slot for SIM, then you should be able to use it. If it is an EVDO usb modem, then it does not take SIM and you will need to register it with telecom.  

  84. At the risk of sounding a bit do i make sure my phone is connected to the 3G network instead of the H+ (edge network). I am using a 3G sim and was told that i will be using 3G network while in addis but i rarely get connected to it. I am using Samsung Galaxy S3 and it keeps connecting to H+ instead of 3G. Its eating up my top up fast…have topped up 200 birr in a week!…now i have switched of my mobile data from my settings to avoid being charged.

  85. Which are the most common mobile handset brands commonly sold in Ethiopia? Could you guys also let me know whether there are any dual-sim mobile handsets available in the country?

  86. Hi, does anyone know how I can get my Zoom wireless router to work with my EVDO ? i am using a Huawei EC122 USB modem. Thanks. Zebz

  87. Hey all,
    I live in Ethiopia and am looking to have someone bring me a tablet from the U.S.  I was wondering if anyone knows if the Ethiopian EVDO stick is compatible with Android or the IPAD OS, if I were to connect it through an adapter to the tablet?  

    Second question:  if not, is the IPAD the only tablet that takes a 3G card? 

  88. Can anyone please tell me what is exactly the rate of the 3g service in ethiopia, for the prepaid sim card, and how the fee applies, that is wehther there is connection fee or how much money per data like how much it costs for one MB or stg . i really want to konw that thanks.

  89. Hi!
    The service provider in Ethiopia, Ethio – Telecom states the APN settings are the following:
    APN :
    User: (blank)
    Password: (blank)

    However, this does not seem to work on BlackBerry 9810. Anyone with the correct data, please post it. There seem to be too many hapless guys out here!

  90. Hi all, 
    I have the expereiance that blackberry phones will not work directly with the Ethio-telecom GPRS network. They need to be unlocked for the service. But if the phone is already unlocked you can use Oper Mini browser to surf the web. The other web applications will not work without wifi. I you need any assistance in unlocking your blackberry phone for Ethiopian GPRS give me a call on +251 917570038. I have Internet Cafe in Nekemte, Ethiopia where I provide related Technical Suppurt.

    1. Hi, I have BlackBerry Q10 and it is factory unlocked to work with any SIM Card. the problem is, the internet do not work with the SIM card even i have a 3G SIM that works with other smart phones. any help???

  91. Hi si, Im a Japanese civil engineer having travel plan in whole Etiopia including the border area passing the national roads. I want to use Google map with Iphone4s for traveling map and identify my location during trip. Can I have such service in Ethiopia? If such use is possible in Ethiopia, make me know how to and have the required information please. I am going to travel about 7000km in Ethiopi by car.

  92. Hi
    I have recently shifted to addis ababa .Im using blackberry 8520 handset as BB service is not available in addis so not able to use internet service or IM service on my handset Please help me with settings to activate the internet service on BB handset in addis ababa. I have 2G SIM card as currently Govt has stopped providing 3G SIM.

  93. From what I understand, you can use an iPad or other tablet with the 3g sim cards. But, how does one top them up? iPads don’t have a normal voice call feature, only if you download an app. So, is it possible to use a mobile phone to top up a separate sim card? In other words, can you use your mobile phone to top up your iPad?

  94. Hi, Do you happen to have any further information regarding the availability of 3G or 4G sim cards in Ethiopia. My understanding is that they are sold out. Have you heard anything. Not sure if you are still in Ethiopia. Best regards and thank you in advance

  95. I use Nokia Lumia 630 in Ethiopia. The phone only receives micro sim card. anyone who helps me weather micro sim is available in Ethiopia or is it possible to cut the Ethiopian sim card to micro sim card?

  96. I live in southern Ethiopia.i need to buy blackberry z30 which was made in Canada. Colour black
    New packed original phone. The problem with blackberry corporation is narrow market destination. Is it available in Ethiopia,Addis Ababa mobile shops. What a great phone with great devices much more than iPhone 6 but not greater than lumia,Microsoft Windows Phone.

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