Addis Ababa - Post Report Question and Answers

Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

It is available but it's not super reliable. VPNs are recommended. He had fiber optic cable installed by a previous occupant so not sure how long installations take. - Dec 2023

Internet is cheap but notoriously unreliable. It can be cut off at random times by the government during times of unrest or final exams across the country. Internet works best in the morning and day, and almost impossible at night. You can get unlimited voice and data SIMS for your phone for less than $20/month. Similarly, unlimited data SIMS for your Wi-Fi router puck for even less. Ethio telecom has been the monopoly, but Safaricom is a new competitor. There are also some hard-wire Internet home services, but cost and efficiency may vary. If you must have good online access, probably get both a Wi-Fi Sim router puck which you bring from the US, and also local wired service, to have back-up options. Elevation apartments may have their own Internet service, but it can be unreliable and you may want to have your own personal Wi-Fi Hotspot service. - Aug 2023

Yes, it’s available. It can take a couples days to a couple weeks for installation. - Aug 2023

Do not expect fast speed internet. We subscribed to 4 Mbps and normally registered around 1. something. Telecom is the only way to go. Never even think of using Websprix! They just skim off what Telecom gives them. - Aug 2022

Internet is pretty reliable and not too expensive. It can sometimes be a little slow, but typically only during hours of high activity. You can do pay as you go or buy unlimited packages. - Jul 2022

High-speed internet is available but, like almost everything else in Addis, it often doesn't work. - Jun 2021

Ha! SLOW INTERNET. - Feb 2021

No high speed internet available. What is available is slow, expensive and prone to unannounced outages, sometimes for weeks on end. - Aug 2020

Internet is available. Speed is depressingly slow. Government turns it off for weeks at a time during a crisis or student exams. - Mar 2020

No. They are working on improving it, but the internet is terrible and unreliable. Most homes have both a land line, hard wired into the home and a MyFi system. Just know if the land line is not present in your home, it is VERY expensive to get it wired in and it is unreliable during the day. Ours never works during working hours, but is okay at night. Internet signal can fluctuate/weaken in the homes, so bring a reliable wifi extender. Internet is currently owned by the government. That is supposed to change, but know it seems like they turn it off whenever they feel like it. It seems especially during times of unrest and exam week for students. - Feb 2020

There's no "high speed" internet! We've had worse in Baku, Azerbaijan, but it's still pretty bad here. The Embassy seems to be trying to find a better way to help people get internet more efficiently. It's been a mess since we arrived to get and pay for internet. - Feb 2019

Haha, noooooo. You can get internet at home, but it's slow and capped (unless you pay a lot more). It might be different now, this was four years ago (2014). - Oct 2018

It is extremely slow and expensive here, but it is internet in the developing world. - Aug 2018

ADSL is available but not high speed and is not reliable and very expensive compared to US. It can take a week to 3 month to install. Once it is out, it takes 2 days to 3 months to fix or never able to fix. The new Prime Minister has talked about privatizing communication sector, so there may be better services with competition of companies with lower price in the near or far future. - Jul 2018

It is the worst internet we have ever experienced and the most expensive. - Jan 2018

Ha. Ethiopia has the world's most expensive internet, and it is highly unreliable. For my $150/month I can sometimes stream low-res with a little buffer time, and other times have absolutely nothing. Bring books and DVDs. - Sep 2017

This question made me laugh (and then irritated). High-speed? It's more like the dial-up we had back in the '90s, but at modern-day overly-expensive prices. So you get the worst of both worlds: crappy, slow connectivity AND you pay through the nose. Then there are the days/weeks on end without internet for a variety of reasons and with little explanation. It's all infuriating and I agree with the person who commented on the teleworking situation. Ironically, I telework for my company back in DC. I rely on the regular Ethio-telecom connection and then have the hot spot wifi. We pay hundreds of dollars just to have some sort of semi-secure internet connection for me. It's been 90% ok -- save for the week two months ago when the GOE decided to turn off access, nationally, to social media sites. The only problem? They are so inept on all levels that they essentially broke the entire internet, if that's possible. And it affected phone service. There was internet at the embassy (which is where I went - the pool/gym area has wifi and I was hanging out there a lot), but it was dial-up speed. Unbelievable, actually. We're promised more of that should the GOE feel the need to further oppress people and in response to potential civil unrest. Plan on having a router ready. We bought the router from the person who lived here before us but that's risky too because the 'make-ready' nonsense that goes into the house between occupants means a high volume of people coming/going who can easily take the router and then it's your problem. - Aug 2016

The availability of communications (internet, mobile, phone, data) is laughable. Mission refuses to clarify the reality of the communications situation here, for fear that no one will bid. They'd rather deal with the horror and complaints from new arrivals.

Ethio Telecom (ETC) is a government monopoly, with GOE following the lead of China. China provides much of the expertise (construction and design) here, and it shows. Poor quality, poor planning, lots of government control of access. While you can buy home packages for US$100-150 a month, we were advised and can confirm that unless you purchase the more expensive packages, ETC will provide only intermittent service. We pay $300 a month for internet and often go for weeks at a time with no service. This is the cost for 4 mbps service (we measure regularly and rarely reach anywhere near that). To compare, we pay $125 a month for a cable/internet package in the US that provides is up to 150 mbps service. If you or your family members will need internet access for educational or work purposes, this is not the post for you. If you need consistency of communications for interface with extended family or children in the US, this is not the post for you.

In addition, same levels of access are not available in all housing areas. Bole/Gerji has particularly poor infrastructure. The best quality infrastructure is available in the much nicer Old Airport residential area. (See update below). If you are assigned housing new to pool, you will have to pay to have cable/internet run to the house.

Mission promotes mobile hot spot service (4g purportedly) as a reasonable alternative. It rarely reaches the level of 4g service and is prohibitively expensive - much more than the $300 a month we pay for spotty wifi.

You should bring your own routers and cables. Be ready to start haranguing post for installation on the day of arrival. Even with immediate request and daily reminders it takes 3-6 months (up to never in some sad cases) to get installation at home. All our interaction with ETC is through the Embassy, a necessity because of language and inattention, but one the Embassy doesn't take much responsibility for. In sum, a very poor communication context.

UPDATE APRIL 2014: It's hard to say this politely. Effective immediately, a good percentage of US Embassy housing is now situated in a neighborhood that has NO (and will have NO) access to internet. None. MGMT and housing board are apparently NOT communicating this truthfully to bidders.

If you are considering Addis and have any interest in any level of internet access, make sure your housing survey specifies that you will NOT accept housing in Bole Homes. Understand that attempts to correct this upon arrival will not be successful. There are a host of other problems in this neighborhood as well. Remember, many would say they wouldn't survive here without access to Amazon Prime or other mail order options. Not possible without internet.

Additionally, make sure that you have at least one, better two, functional VPN's available on all your digital tools (laptops, tablets, phones). The government is constantly blocking websites, various VPN's, and definitely social media. Most of us switch from VPN to VPN, picking different connection points every time we access. - Aug 2016

Kind of. When our internet works, we can stream low-quality videos. However, it will occasionally cut out for weeks at a time. And it's expensive--roughly US$100 per month. Internet, phone networks, and general connectivity is one of the major complaints among the expat community here. - Feb 2016

Once again, government monopoly. Our neighborhood got DSL in 2012 but was rather unreliable. Cost was around US$60/month. - May 2014

Yes, at US$96 a month. They are slowly rolling out broadband service to various neighborhoods. We got ours after being here for four months. Quality depends on luck and the neighborhood. We go a random day or week here and there where it has gone out, but when it's working we can Skype and stream Netflix (VPN service required for Netflix). Others with broadband complain they can barely check email. It's hit or miss. EVDO can be used for small stuff like email, but it's a pain. If internet and landline phone service is important to you, please make sure you move into a house where there is service. There are some homes (maybe 20 percent) that can't get internet, there is no landline phone, and cell coverage is spotty at best. - Jan 2014

ADSL, available only to businesses or through a special arrangement for embassy residences -- though not all neighborhoods are capable of having it. Otherwise, Internet is dial-up speed via horrible pre-paid EVDO sticks with capped bandwidth AND capped download. - Nov 2013

Still very poor, but slowly getting better. Bandwith is not good enough for youtube as of yet. Very spotty connection at times. Not a place to live if you are taking online classes. Every now and then VPNs get blocked. - Jun 2012

"EVDO" can be decent -- at least when it's not busy. - Aug 2010

Moderately high-speed internet is available. It's not great, but is getting better. It's not cheap. Again, it's through the state-owned telephone company. - Jun 2010

No. - Mar 2008


Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More