Telecom giant Vimpelcom is reinventing itself a tech company to keep up with competition from internet giants — Quartz

To compete with internet companies, Vimpelcom—the world’s sixth largest telco—is hoping to become one.

On Feb. 27, Vimpelcom rebranded itself as Veon, already the name of its digital messaging app. The revamped company is offering “zero-rated” voice and data services—i.e. free for Vimpelcom customers—and has already teamed up with MasterCard, short series platform Studio+, music-streaming service Deezer; and will.i.am’s wearables company, i.am+. The goal? Transform an enormous traditional telco (Vimpelcom is the top provider in Italy, and the third largest in Russia) into a tech company that can compete in emerging markets, where mobile users often opt for free internet offered by Google and Facebook. It’s a pivot that other telcos will be watching closely.

“Just being a performing telco operator was not a sustainable strategy,” Vimpelcom CEO Jean-Yves Charlier told Quartz. “Tech companies have been capturing the growth linked to digital mobile…

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