Viettel has plans to expand to North Korea, Cuba

Viettel Has Plans To Expand To North Korea, CubaViettel Group, Vietnam’s largest mobile network operator wholly owned and operated by the Ministry of Defense, has plans to expand to socialist sister countries North Korea and Cuba, both of which are in the early stages of building up mobile phone networks. Earlier plans to expand to Venezuela have been put on hold owing to the dismal economic state of the latter nation.

According to Viettel executives, the company is seeking to hold negotiations with the two countries in order to gain a foothold in their underdeveloped wireless markets.

In North Korea, where Koryolink, a joint venture between the North Korean state and Egypt’s Orascom Investment Holdings, has reached millions of subscribers since its 2008 launch, Viettel has sought permission to build a mobile network as early as in 2010 but is still waiting for sanctions to be lifted and for the country to open its market to foreign investors.

That it can work shows another foreign telecom active in North Korea despite sanctions, Thailand’s Loxley Pacific, which runs an Internet provider called Star in North Korea and has been tasked to build up a communication infrastructure including mobile telephony and Internet in the country’s northern special economic zone of Rason.

In Cuba, things depend on a decision by Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, the state-owned telecom provider and operator of the sole mobile network Cubacel whether it would grant Viettel a license.

Viettel in its international expansion has set sights on a number of otherwise overlooked destinations. It began its global expansion by setting up a joint venture in Laos in 2008 and became the largest mobile phone operator in Cambodia after launching operations there in 2009.

Later on, Viettel expanded to Haiti, Mozambique, East Timor, Cameroon, Peru, Burundi, Tanzania and eventually Myanmar.

By 2017, Viettel’s international operations covered an area of more 350 million potential subscribers. Between 2015 and 2017, the company invested over $2.23 billion or its foreign expansion strategy, particularly for infrastructure in Myanmar where it is seeking to double its five million subscriber base by the end of this year.

Reportedly, Viettel is also in talks to buy stakes in existing telecommunication firms in Malaysia and Indonesia and a 20-per cent stake in an unnamed European mobile carrier. Plans are to expand further in Bangladesh, Nepal, Belarus and Ukraine in the near future.

However, Viettel CEO Le Dang Dung plans to stop investment in the African market where the company has struggled to make a profit due to poor economic growth, Reuters reported.

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Viettel Group, Vietnam's largest mobile network operator wholly owned and operated by the Ministry of Defense, has plans to expand to socialist sister countries North Korea and Cuba, both of which are in the early stages of building up mobile phone networks. Earlier plans to expand to Venezuela have been put on hold owing to the dismal economic state of the latter nation. According to Viettel executives, the company is seeking to hold negotiations with the two countries in order to gain a foothold in their underdeveloped wireless markets. In North Korea, where Koryolink, a joint venture between the North...

Viettel Has Plans To Expand To North Korea, CubaViettel Group, Vietnam’s largest mobile network operator wholly owned and operated by the Ministry of Defense, has plans to expand to socialist sister countries North Korea and Cuba, both of which are in the early stages of building up mobile phone networks. Earlier plans to expand to Venezuela have been put on hold owing to the dismal economic state of the latter nation.

According to Viettel executives, the company is seeking to hold negotiations with the two countries in order to gain a foothold in their underdeveloped wireless markets.

In North Korea, where Koryolink, a joint venture between the North Korean state and Egypt’s Orascom Investment Holdings, has reached millions of subscribers since its 2008 launch, Viettel has sought permission to build a mobile network as early as in 2010 but is still waiting for sanctions to be lifted and for the country to open its market to foreign investors.

That it can work shows another foreign telecom active in North Korea despite sanctions, Thailand’s Loxley Pacific, which runs an Internet provider called Star in North Korea and has been tasked to build up a communication infrastructure including mobile telephony and Internet in the country’s northern special economic zone of Rason.

In Cuba, things depend on a decision by Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, the state-owned telecom provider and operator of the sole mobile network Cubacel whether it would grant Viettel a license.

Viettel in its international expansion has set sights on a number of otherwise overlooked destinations. It began its global expansion by setting up a joint venture in Laos in 2008 and became the largest mobile phone operator in Cambodia after launching operations there in 2009.

Later on, Viettel expanded to Haiti, Mozambique, East Timor, Cameroon, Peru, Burundi, Tanzania and eventually Myanmar.

By 2017, Viettel’s international operations covered an area of more 350 million potential subscribers. Between 2015 and 2017, the company invested over $2.23 billion or its foreign expansion strategy, particularly for infrastructure in Myanmar where it is seeking to double its five million subscriber base by the end of this year.

Reportedly, Viettel is also in talks to buy stakes in existing telecommunication firms in Malaysia and Indonesia and a 20-per cent stake in an unnamed European mobile carrier. Plans are to expand further in Bangladesh, Nepal, Belarus and Ukraine in the near future.

However, Viettel CEO Le Dang Dung plans to stop investment in the African market where the company has struggled to make a profit due to poor economic growth, Reuters reported.

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