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Opening the Internet in Vietnam: a brave decision

Former Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Khanh said Vietnam could have opened the internet sooner but it needed to prepare well in technique, human resources, policies, and more importantly, ideology.
Former Director General of the General Department of Post Office Mai Liem Truc

In 1994, as the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof Dang Huu had to persuade Party and State leaders to allow the open Internet.

“As one who needed information and needed to use the internet, I tried to persuade the Party and Government to open the door to the Internet. We realized that if we did not have the internet, we would find it difficult to work because we had to communicate with foreign partners, and it was too costly to use telephones or fax,” he recalled.

“We affirmed that we would not have a knowledge-based economy without the internet,” Huu said.

In 1996, when Vietnam did not allow the Internet, HoangAnhGiaLai Group hired two engineers, bought two computers and accessed the Internet every day to seek information about the market for wooden furniture products.

Huu affirmed that technologically Vietnam could have opened the internet sooner, but there were worries about security problems, so the issue needed thorough consideration.

Tran Ba Thai, former director of NetNam, considered one of the first three persons to bring the internet to Vietnam, said that in 1992 he teamed up with a group of researchers of Australia National University. The first email was with an Australian man whom he never met, but just talked via phone. The interesting thing was that the people pioneering emails in Vietnam were related to social issues and had demand for international exchange, not scientists in human sciences.

The questions before G-Day

It was a long story to persuade members of related agencies and get agreement before the internet was opened in 1997. Information was different, including worries about positive and negative results, such as fear of revealing secrets, or exploiting the internet to sully the regime.

Even when the government approved, it requested very cautious steps, and learned from experience regularly.

At that time, temporary regulations on management, establishment and use of internet networks in Vietnam associated with the Decree dated March 21, 1997 stipulated: “The computer information networks and databases of Party, Government, Security and Defense agencies must not be connected to the Internet."

According to former Director General of the General Department of Post Office Mai Liem Truc, there were opinions opposing the plan to bring the internet to Vietnam, but there were not many such opinions. People all thought that the internet would be available in Vietnam, sooner or later. 

“We had to answer questions from the Politburo and the government such as: can we prevent all toxic information if we open the internet. After that, the Standing Politburo agreed on opening the internet and we came to persuade the government. The four of us went to meet the late Prime Minister Phan Van Khai at his home,” Truc recalled.

And now, 25 years after Vietnam opened its doors to the internet, it has 72.1 million internet users in daily life, ranks 13th in the world, the mobile broadband infrastructure has covered 99 percent of hamlets nationwide, 19.79 million households have FTTH (72.4 percent). FTTH is provided to 100 percent communes, wards, towns, 91 percent of hamlets, and 100 percent of schools.

The number of smartphone subscribers is 94.2 million, while the number of broadband subscribers is 82.2 million (74.3 percent of population). Over 564,000 ‘.vn’ domain names, ranked second in Asia and in top 10 in Asia Pacific.

The IP (IPv4 and IPv6) use density is in the top 2-30 nations in the globe. The number of people using IPv6 in Vietnam accounts for 53 percent with over 50 million users. Vietnam is among the top 10 countries in switching to IPv6.

Thai Khang


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