South Korea’s SK Telecom has invested KRW35 billion (USD31.2 million) in IT&E, which offers telecoms services in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Korean publication Pulse reports that the size of the stake has not been disclosed due to privacy clauses but confirms that SK Telecom is now the telco’s second-largest shareholder, behind Philippines-based Citadel Holdings (part of Prospector Investments), which is owned by the Delgado family.
Under the shareholder agreement, the two parties plan to overhaul IT&E’s wireless networks, including the adoption of 5G and ‘quantum crypto communication technologies.’ SK Telecom notes that Guam and Saipan (the main island in the CNMI chain) are among the top overseas vacation destinations for South Koreans – more than one million Koreans are said to visit each year – necessitating a faster, more reliable mobile broadband service.
As a result of the deal, from 21 December SK Telecom customers will be allowed to utilise their domestic mobile data allowances in Guam and the CNMI, without purchasing a roaming plan. Meanwhile, between 19 September and 21 December SK Telecom subscribers will be given a free 1GB daily data allowance covering the islands.
TeleGeography notes that Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation acquired a 25% stake in IT&E back in 2006; it remains unclear whether it has sold its stake to SK Telecom or remains a shareholder.