KtRN posts $25.1m in losses

Sunday May 19 2019

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According to KtRN,Currently  Rwanda has the highest 4G spread in Africa, but also the lowest penetration.PHOTO | Cyril NDEGEYA 

MOSES K. GAHIGI
By MOSES K. GAHIGI
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Korea Telecom (KtRN), the monopoly wholesaler of 4G LTE, continues to make losses in the Rwandan market, with the latest figures showing the company made a $25.1 million loss in 2018.

The figures released by the United States Securities and Exchanges Commission show that although the company earned revenues of $13 million, it is still the worst performer in the whole of the Korea Telecom group.

The Global Systems Mobile Association has come out strongly against the Single Wholesale Network model, because it has failed to deliver on its promise of widely accessible, affordable and fast Internet.

It has called on regulators to dilute the monopolies enjoyed by these wholesale networks to open up the market to competition, as the only way to ensure consumers benefit, since competition will not only bring affordable options, but will result in innovation of the data ecosystem.

However, during the Transform Africa Summit, KtRN exhibited a virtual reality experience powered by 5G Internet, which hints at their intention to launch 5G in the Rwandan market, a product the firm has launched elsewhere.

When asked, KtRN officials said there are no plans to launch 5G in Rwanda soon because they would first have to discuss it with the government before anything is decided.

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KtRN is a joint venture between Korea Telecom — with a 51 per cent stake — and the government, which owns a 49 per cent stake.

Through the partnership, Korea Telecom was to offer its expertise and make a cash injection of around $140 million, while the government’s equity investment included its national fibre optic network assets, spectrum and a wholesale-only operator license of 25 years.

Despite having a monopoly in the 4G market, KtRN has struggled to gain stability in the Internet market, with customers shunning the product over its high cost, something the company blamed on retailers who overcharge the product after getting it at a reasonable wholesale price.

Between 2014 and 2017, the company incurred losses amounting to $73.2 million.

At the end of last year, KtRN fired its CEO and hired a new one, who seems to be trying to employ new strategies of selling 4G LTE to new markets.

The new CEO Dae Heak An Aaron recently told Rwanda Today that they expect the demand for 4G LTE to increase faster.

His first strategy a few months into office has been to come up with 4G products targeting smartphone users, where one can now subscribe to “unlimited” 4G Internet, which does not get depleted until the validity

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