Telecoms firm Veon is to will invest $600 million into its Ukrainian subsidiary Kyivstar.
Veon stated that the investment will go towards upgrading the mobile operator's infrastructure, improving connectivity, and deploying 4G services across the war-torn country.
Amsterdam-based Veon said it has made the pledge as part of the international Ukraine Recovery Conference in London, which looks to focus on mobilizing international support for Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction.
“The past 16 months have shown the world that communications are indeed the lifeline of Ukraine. With the dedication of our 4,000-strong team, and the support of our parent company Veon, Kyivstar has been central to Ukraine’s resilience and recovery since the very morning of February 24th, 2022,” said Oleksandr Komarov, CEO of Kyivstar.
“Today’s sizeable investment commitment signifies not only a continuation of our track record, but also an acceleration of our investments. At a time when many others are refraining from making future plans, we proudly commit to ‘building back better’ in partnership with public sector counterparts and other national and international stakeholders. We would like to invite other companies to invest with the same enthusiasm to contribute today to the future Ukraine.”
Kyivstar is Ukraine's largest telco, counting 24.3 million mobile subscribers, plus 1.1 million fixed-line users on its books.
During Ukraine's war with Russia, the operator has provided its services to the wider Ukrainian population through measures including infrastructure sharing with other operators, and providing free Wi-Fi to shelters and new settlements.
Much of the country has seen its mobile infrastructure hit by Russian rocket attacks, while Veon notes that Kyivstar's technical teams have carried out nearly 150,000 repairs since the invasion, adding it ensured that 93 percent of the network is operational.
In November, Kyivstar successfully restored connectivity in the south and east of the country, as Russian troops withdrew, with base stations in Kherson, Snihurivka, Staryi Saltiv, Lisne, and Velyki Khutory restored.
The investment in the operator's 4G network, is part of plans to cover 98 percent of Ukraine's population with 4G services within three years, including smaller, remote settlements.
Though registered in the Netherlands today, Veon's historical roots are based in Russia. Russian telco PJSC VimpelCom was founded in 1992 in Moscow and launched the Beeline brand in 1993. The Netherlands-based VimpelCom Ltd. holding company was founded in 2009 and was renamed Veon in 2017. Today Veon operates telecoms brands across Europe and Asia, largely through its Beeline brand. In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the company has sold its Russian operations to local management.