I'm considering a long business trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. One risk is that Ethiopia is one of those countries where the government periodically shuts down internet access, which could cause me some problems if it happened at a bad time while I was there, so I'm trying to plan ahead.
It's happened twice recently that I'm aware of: as I understand it, in October 2016 for a few weeks mobile internet, and I think also internet cafes were shut down and cable internet was slow/restricted during political protests; and for one week in May 2017 both mobile and cable internet were completely switched off (basically, all internet through the state monopoly EthioTelecom), allegedly to prevent students from sharing leaked exam papers before sitting their exams.
Satellite internet like VSAT and BGAN, however, are as far as I know legal in Ethiopia and as I understand it weren't blocked (if it would even be possible to do so) or banned. However, personal satellite internet access for an individual is prohibitively expensive: setting up VSAT would require a satellite dish set up by a technician, whereas BGAN portable receivers start at around $1,000 USD and cost hundreds of dollars for tens of megabytes.
It seems like there are a good number of businesses in Ethiopia that do use VSAT for internet access, and also apparently there have been some exemptions, but I can't find any specifics:
There were exceptions to the blackout as diplomatic and international institutions, banks and top hospitality outfits still had access amidst the blackout.
Is there anything like a hotel, business centre, venue, or similar in Addis Ababa where I could go and pay for internet access that is exempted or from some source like VSAT that isn't turned off during these government shutdowns?
I've heard that the UN have some backup connection (presumably VSAT?) which they share with certain diplomatic and humanitarian partners during these shutdowns for emergency uses, but I doubt I'd be able to blag my way onto that...
I've seen Where can I find a decent place to do remote work in Addis Ababa? and have contacted the working space (IceAddis) suggested in the answer.
Unfortunately they confirmed that they are also affected. Apparently only a handful of organisations such as Ethiopia Airlines and the UN have licences to use VSAT.