Rakuten Symphony and Kyivstar Sign Letter of Intent to Deploy Open RAN to Rebuild Ukraine’s Digital Infrastructure

Barcelona - Rakuten Symphony, a subsidiary of the leading internet services company, Rakuten Group, and Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest telecommunications operator and VEON Group’s wholly owned subsidiary, have announced the signing of a Letter of Intent (LoI) that confirms Kyivstar’s interest in procuring and deploying Rakuten Symphony's Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) technology in its network.

The LoI confirms Kyivstar’s intent to use Rakuten’s Open RAN and 5G technologies to help rebuild Ukraine's digital infrastructure, reinforcing both companies’ commitment to supporting Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction. The companies intend to take first steps for the deployment within 2024. Kyivstar and Rakuten Symphony are currently collaborating to define the scope of their initiative, which will involve both 4G and 5G Open RAN technology.

Rakuten and Kyivstar held a signing ceremony for the LoI in the presence of Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, and Denys Shmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine, at the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Growth and Reconstruction, hosted in Tokyo on February 19, with Hideyuki Hirama, EVP, COO and CSO of Rakuten Symphony, and Sergiy Korsunsky, Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan, in attendance.

Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten Group, said, “Rakuten is extremely proud to continue its support for Ukraine’s efforts to rebuild its infrastructure and in supporting Kyivstar’s vision for deploying Open RAN. We look forward to advancing collaboration between our two organizations and to realizing Ukraine’s digital potential through the rebuilding of the country’s digital infrastructure.”

Kaan Terzioglu, Group CEO of VEON, said “We are now in the implementation phase of our 600 million USD investment commitment for the reconstruction of Ukraine. I share the excitement of our Kyivstar team, under the leadership of Kyivstar CEO Oleksandr Komarov, in working with Rakuten to rebuild the country’s infrastructure with Open RAN as a part of this commitment. We have a shared passion for building Ukraine’s digital future and I’m glad to see the progress in our joint effort.”

The signing follows a number of measures taken by Rakuten and VEON to support Ukraine throughout the war, demonstrating a commitment to its people, economy and post-war reconstruction. In August 2023, Rakuten Symphony and VEON, Kyivstar’s parent company, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore cooperation in Ukraine, with the goal of accelerating the reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure, through collaboration on Open RAN and digital services.

Rakuten Group Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani accompanied Japanese government officials on a diplomatic mission to Ukraine in September 2023. Serving as a representative of Japan’s private sector, Mikitani met with Ukraine leaders including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for Innovation, Development of Education, Science and Technology and Minister of Digital Transformation.

Rakuten also launched the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Emergency Relief Fund through its online donation platform, Rakuten Clutch Special Charity Fund, and held a t-shirt donation drive to support Ukraine that raised more than 1.3 billion yen *1.

VEON’s Kyivstar, the largest telecommunications operator in Ukraine, has kept its 24 million customers connected at home and abroad throughout the past two years, and continued to invest heavily in its network and digital services. One of the largest taxpayers in Ukraine, Kyivstar also supports a number of charitable causes, most recently raising 4.8 million USD for the demining of Ukraine.

VEON has committed 600 million USD in investments over three years, supporting Ukraine’s reconstruction and recovery; and has announced the intention to widen the scope of its commitment to 1 billion USD in five years, if market conditions permit.

Notes *1 The Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Emergency Relief Fund raised approximately 1.29 billion yen, and the charity T-shirt donation drive for Ukraine raised approximately 51 million yen.

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