VietNamNet Bridge – The slow growth of the telecom subscribers in 2012 has been attributed to the economic crisis. However, in such a crisis, 3G services still made a big leap.


3G still marches forward despite economic downturn

3G services have been provided in the Vietnamese market since October 2009. At first, VinaPhone was the only mobile network operator which provided the services. Meanwhile, there are now four service providers including VinaPhone, MobiFone, Viettel and Vietnamobile.

A report released by the Ministry of Information and Communication in June 2012 showed that Vietnam had had 16 million 3G subscribers. The ministry has estimated that the figure had increased to 20 million by the end of 2012. The figures show the strong development of 3G services in Vietnam.

Lam Hoang Vinh, Deputy General Director of VNPT (the Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group), who is also Director of VinaPhone, one of the three biggest mobile network operators in Vietnam, said VinaPhone’s 3G saw the high growth rate of 60 percent in turnover, with nearly 6 million 3G subscribers now in operation.

Also according to Vinh, more than 80 added value services have been provided by the network operator, which is also the reason behind the sharp increase in the non-voice service turnover in 2012.

To date, VinaPhone has developed nearly 30,000 BTS (base transreceiver stations) nationwide. It is the pioneer in upgrading 3G system to 3.5G with the maximum download speed of up to 21.6Mbps and upload speed of 5.76 Mbps.

Vinh affirmed that with the current capacity of the 3G network, VinaPhone has got ready to prevent the “traffic jam” for 2G network on Tet days, when the demand increases sharply.

The military telco Viettel also said it has installed 100 3G stations more which can ensure that the traffic jam would not occur on Tet days.

3G keeps on the rise in 2013

Telecom experts pointed out that there are three biggest factors that affect the development of 3G services – the network infrastructure conditions, terminal equipments & content services, and service fees. Meanwhile, all the three conditions have been ready in Vietnam.

Over the last three years, mobile network operators have poured VND27,779 billion into developing 3G network. After four years of providing 3G services, network operators have reported the 3G wave coverage reaching to 90 percent of population and territory.

Regarding the service fees, mobile network operators have continuously launched low cost service packages. VinaPhone, for example, has joined MobiFone to launch the 3G service with the service fee of VND15,000 only a month, adding Vietnam into the list of the countries which have the cheapest 3G service fees.

However, one obstacle exist exists – the popularity of the devices compatible to 3G technology. Experts believe that once terminal devices get cheaper, the Vietnamese market would witness the boom of 3G subscribers.

Domestic mobile phone manufacturers have recently launched a lot of low cost smart phone models, priced at VND1.5 million only, which has made it easier for Vietnamese people to approach the advanced technology.

A report by Ericsson said that the percentage of Vietnamese using smart phones would increase from 16 percent currently to 21 percent, and the percentage of tablet users from 2 to five percent. The strong growth rate would facilitate the development of 3G services.

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