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Posted : 2013-03-10 16:49
Updated : 2013-03-10 16:49

KT to build LTE network in Rwanda

Kim Hong-jin, right, president of KT's global business division, shakes hands with Patrick Nyirishema, a senior director at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), after signing an agreement to establish a joint venture for high-speed Internet services in the African country, Sunday. The signing was held in the Rwandan capital city of Kigali. Courtesy of KT


By Kim Yoo-chul

KT announced Sunday it has signed a contract with the Rwanda government to set up a joint firm to build a nationwide mobile Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.

The agreement will pave the way for the company to export its high-speed broadband technology to more African countries, virtually an untapped market, KT said.

"The venture is intended to develop, construct, operate and provide wholesale infrastructure services to mobile service providers and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in Rwanda,'' KT spokeswoman Kim Yoon-jeong said. "It has major significance for our global expansion strategy."

Through the business, KT plans to meet the growing appetite for much faster fourth-generation (4G) mobile services in the African country.

Kim said the joint firm will start building the LTE network within the year, though she declined to elaborate further.

KT will completely control the management of the firm, while the Rwandan government will provide financial and administrative support.

KT is now in talks to narrow key differences such as the division of shares in the firm, Kim said.

The company also plans to build another joint venture firm to bolster its presence in the system integration and information technology fields.

KT started business in Rwanda in 2007 by signing a deal to build a WiBro network. Since then, it has expanded services there, providing information security solutions, among others.

The LTE deal comes a few months after KT abandoned its ambitious plan to buy a 20 percent stake in South Africa's state-run Telkom due to the South African government's refusal to OK the deal.

KT is desperate to cut its heavy dependence on the local market, which is already saturated. It is Korea's dominant fixed-line operator and No. 2 mobile carrier after SK Telecom.

Despite mixed responses in international markets, the Korean company is still focusing on expanding services in emerging markets including Central America and Africa after recently agreeing to sell its 80 percent stake in Russian carrier New Telephone.

In a related move, KT already submitted a preliminary bid for Vivendi's stake in Moroccan carrier Maroc Telecom, a deal worth about $7.3 billion.

"KT has long been looking to expand its business overseas and Africa is one of our top priorities," Kim said.


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