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VEON, Rakuten to deploy open RAN, digital services in Ukraine

VEON Ltd. (NASDAQ: VEON, Euronext Amsterdam: VEON), a global digital operator that provides converged connectivity and online services, today announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Rakuten Symphony, a subsidiary of the leading technology conglomerate, Rakuten Group. The two companies will start exploring cooperation in Ukraine, with the goal of accelerating the reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure, through collaboration on open radio access networks (Open RAN) and digital services.

Under the terms of the MoU, the two companies commit to creating “a robust and future-proof telecommunications infrastructure” that can seamlessly deliver high-speed connectivity enhanced with 5G, enabling the next generation of digital services in Ukraine. With this collaboration, VEON and Rakuten demonstrate their support for the ‘We Build Ukraine’ initiative of the Ukrainian State Agency for Reconstruction and Development of Infrastructure. The two companies will also explore partnerships in other VEON markets.

VEON, operating in six markets with a total population of 510 million, is the parent company of Ukraine’s leading operator Kyivstar and has recently committed to investing USD 600 million to rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure. Announcing its investment commitment, the company referred to the future 5G roll-out in Ukraine, for which Open RAN technologies are a compelling choice. Rakuten Symphony is a leading provider of Open RAN solutions, and has vast experience derived from successfully building the world’s first* end-to-end fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network with its parent company Rakuten Mobile.

The two companies also share a focus on digital ecosystems: VEON’s Kyivstar owns and operates Ukraine’s leading digital services in health, entertainment, information and education, while Rakuten has deep international experience in messaging and financial services. Rakuten’s instant messaging app Rakuten Viber is a leading digital communication app in Ukraine, with near-ubiquitous mobile penetration rates in the country as well as very high adoption and engagement rates among Ukrainian nationals abroad. It also provides services to Ukrainian businesses including via an existing partnership with Kyivstar.

“VEON and Rakuten share a similar vision: we are both highly customer-focused, digital experience-oriented companies which redefine communications in our respective markets,” states Kaan Terzioğlu, Group CEO, VEON. “We are very excited to partner with Rakuten to explore the opportunities in VEON’s markets, with a combined population of 510 million. I am also delighted that we will start this work in Ukraine, where the country’s reconstruction is also a shared priority, as recently demonstrated by our USD 600 million investment commitment.”

“Rakuten is honored to support the ‘We Build Ukraine’ initiative through potential collaboration with VEON to boost Ukraine’s critical national telecommunications infrastructure,” commented Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten Group, and Chairman of Rakuten Symphony. “We look forward to bringing our technological expertise from Open RAN telecom solutions and a broad range of digital services including Rakuten Viber to support Ukraine in transforming its digital landscape, as well as exploring further joint opportunities in other VEON markets.”

CT Bureau

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