Rwanda wholesale wireless company planning African expansion

25 July 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


Korea Telecom’s Rwanda wholesale company rebrands as first move to extend to other parts of region

Rwanda’s wholesale 4G network has rebranded as the first stage in expanding beyond the east African country into other parts of Africa.

Olleh Rwanda Networks (ORN), a public-private partnership between the Rwandan government of Korea Telecom (KT), intends “to extend operations to other parts of the region”, CEO Han-Sung Yoon said in a statement.

The new name for the company, which runs 4G LTE infrastructure across Rwanda that can be used on a wholesale basis by retail operators, is Korea Telecom Rwanda Networks (KTRN). This is “a globally recognised name”, said Yoon. “Nothing else has been changed.”

The company launched services in Rwanda – which has a population of only 12 million – in November 2014. “With a mission to cover 95% of the total population by 2017, 4G LTE services reached 26% of the Rwanda population in the first year of deployment. Currently, 4G LTE has been deployed in 17 districts in Rwanda,” said Yoon. “In 2016, we plan to double the coverage with over 100 additional base stations deployed across different towns of Rwanda.”

The government of Rwanda owns 49% of KTRN, with KT owning the other 51%. KTRN has a 25-year wholesale monopoly, covering wireless and its fibre network, of which more than 3,000km has been built.

Three mobile operators, Airtel, MTN and Tigo, use KTRN’s infrastructure to offer 4G services. The wholesale network is also used by a number of internet service providers.

The company has given no further details of its plan to expand outside of Rwanda, which shares borders with Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.