12 Nov. 2015
Vietnam urged to go ahead with 4G
While the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) still questions the timing for licensing 4G services, analysts and businesses and their partners all believe now is the right time to start 4G.
According to former Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Le Nam Thang, under the ‘N+1’ principle, when calling for players for the ‘4G game’, MIC hopes to see at least one new face. However, only Viettel, MobiFone and VinaPhone, the three largest mobile network operators, all are familiar names, have applied for providing 4G services. And all of them are state-owned enterprises, while there is no private investor in the playing field. The other telcos, such as FPT, VTC and CMC, have not released any information. A local newspaper quoted its sources as saying that the three companies don’t intend to join the 4G market, at least for now, because their infrastructure systems are not good enough to compete with the three largest mobile network operators.
Thang, who has kept a close watch over the telecommunication sector for many years, noted that healthy competition will bring big benefits to users and businesses, and that if the 4G deployment attracts different economic sectors, Vietnam will be able to take full advantage of society’s resources. According to Tran Tuan Anh from MIC, Viettel, MobiFone and VinaPhone would be allowed to provide 4G services on a trial basis in three cities and provinces. Under the telecom development program, MIC will consider licensing 4G in 2016 which will pave the way for 4G services to officially hit the market in 2017. Telcos have blamed MIC for the delays in licensing 4G. The ministry said Vietnam should not start 4G until mobile network operators can recover their investment capital in 3G. However, the MIC’s hesitancy has caused Vietnam to lag behind the world.
Commenting about the time for 4G to be deployed in Vietnam, Mai Liem Truc, former Deputy Minister of Post and Telematics, now MIC, said that the state management agency needs to be ‘technologically neutral’, i.e., it should not make interventions into the technologies that firms use. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the agreement of 12 member countries which Vietnam has signed, also says that the states must be neutral in technology. Therefore, Truc said, MIC should not say it would license 4G services once telcos have recovered their investment capital in 3G, because this would be ‘not neutral’.
Mantosh Malhotra, Qualcomm South East Asia Director, said in developed countries, 4G has been applied for a long time. Now is the right time for Vietnam to start 4G as the 4G ecosystem is good and 4G terminal devices have become cheap.