VimpelCom, the parent company of mobile providers Mobilink and Warid, has announced plans to invest USD1 billion in Pakistan over the next five years, including USD300 million over the next year alone. ProPakistani quotes CEO Jean-Yves Charlier as saying: ‘We are going to make major investments in network, IT systems, infrastructure and in new services for customers during the next five years with an ambition to build the best network with the widest coverage and the most advanced 3G and 4G LTE services in the country… We fundamentally believe that the growth opportunities in Pakistan are very substantial, mainly due to young population here and penetration of mobile services that are still on the rise in the country.’
In addition to the USD1 billion earmarked for Pakistan, Mobilink/Warid will also benefit from a USD1 billion deal VimpelCom recently signed with Swedish vendor Ericsson to replace IT systems across all of its markets. According to Mr Charlier, the group is also considering centralising some of its global services in Pakistan as a hub to serve other VimpelCom subsidiaries worldwide.
Regarding the planned merger of Mobilink and Warid, VimpelCom noted that the integration of the two cellcos was expected to be completed within the next 18 to 24 months, although the operator was looking to provide LTE services to Mobilink customers and 3G services to Warid users as soon as possible. Further, the company confirmed that it would retain Warid’s spectrum rights and would look to renew the concessions in 2019. A new brand identity has not been decided yet for the enlarged company, Mr Charlier added.