VEON investment plans reveal 4G network focus for 2020

VEON is expecting to lower operational Capex at 21-22 percent of total revenue in 2020 as compared with 23.1 percent in 2019.
VEON CEO Ursula Burns
The main focus of VEON will be in the expansion of its 4G network in Russia.

“We pursue growth opportunities in 3G and 4G services both through our traditional connectivity business and our ecosystem of new services. We evaluate future assets through our new Ventures division, which is already helping to accelerate the performance of our digital financial services business in Pakistan, JazzCash,” VEON chairman and CEO Ursula Burns said.

VEON said low single-digit growth in revenue in 2020 will be data-led and enabled through the expansion of 3G and 4G networks. VEON aims to raise 4G ARPU through deployment of new services.

VEON’s total Capex (excluding licenses) rose to $579 million in Q4 2019 from $347 million in Q4 2018, mainly due to network investments, especially in Russia. The ratio of Capex to revenue for the last twelve months is 19.6 percent.

Beeline, a leading operator in Russia, said its Capex increased by 82.2 percent as a result of Beeline’s commitment to improving its network quality. Beeline increased 4G base stations by 38 percent. Beeline made investment in network development with a strong separate focus on Moscow and Saint-Petersburg.

Beeline improved significantly the download speed in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg during the year. Beeline said the Capex to revenue ratio was 21.7 percent in Q4 2019. Beeline said investment plans related to national regulations on data storage are progressing in alignment with legal requirements.

Kyivstar, a leading mobile operator in Ukraine, said Capex increased by 32.6 percent as a result of a strategic focus on 4G roll-out. Kyivstar achieved 4G population coverage of 74 percent. Kyivstar was a market leader in coverage and speed according to recognised speed tests. Kyivstar said Capex excluding licenses increased by 114 percent to UAH 1.6 billion.

Jazz Pakistan’s Capex increased to PKR 9.9 billion, mainly due to the adverse impact of FX and timing differences. Capex increased to PKR 10.9 billion. The population coverage of Jazz’s data network was more than 60 percent.

Beeline Uzbekistan said Capex more than doubled to UZS 105 billion, mainly as a result of 4G investments. Beeline Uzbekistan’s 4G network achieved a population coverage of 26 percent. Capex to revenue ratio was 20 percent.

Beeline Uzbekistan made investment in high-speed data networks, increasing the number of 3G and 4G sites and further improvements to high-speed data networks will continue to be a priority in 2020.

Beeline Kazakhstan said its Capex increased by 120.8 percent due to additional investment after the termination of a network sharing agreement in Kazakhstan between subsidiary KaR-Tel and Kcell due to Kazakh telecom’s acquisition of 75 percent of Kcell’s shares. Capex of Beeline Kazakhstan rose by 127.1 percent to KZT 14.7 billion.

Djezzy Algeria’s 4G services covered 28 provinces and 38 percent of Algeria’s population. , Djezzy Algeria’s 3G network covered all 48 provinces and approximately 75 percent of Algeria’s population. Capex of Djezzy Algeria was DZD 4.6 billion, representing a 20.5 percent decrease.

Banglalink Bangladesh’s Capex increased to BDT 1.7 billion as a result of 4G rollout across the country. 3G network population coverage was approximately 72 percent at the end of 2019.