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Hanoi Rocks: Vietnam Gets Nationwide 4G Network

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By Pete BellMay 10, 2017

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Vietnamese mobile operator Viettel announced the commercial launch of its 4G LTE network, which boasts coverage for 95 percent of the population.

While the vast majority of operators have opted to deploy their new networks gradually—typically beginning in high-density urban areas—Viettel has rolled out what it calls a “nationwide” system in the country of more than 90 million people.

Viettel first began trialing an LTE network in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province in December 2015 and was awarded a 4G 1800MHz license by the Ministry of Information and Communications the following October alongside VNPT-Vinaphone, MobiFone, and GTel Mobile.

As is the case in Vietnam's wider telecoms sector, the state remains the dominant force in the mobile market, with the Vietnamese government in charge of the three largest players.

36,000 Base Stations

In the space of just six months, the military-owned firm says it rolled out 36,000 base transceiver stations across the country. This includes all provinces and cities, as well as remote, mountainous, and island communities.

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Viettel says it will provide speeds between 30Mbps and 50Mbps. The company also claims that it will market 4G packages that are "40-60 percent cheaper" than 3G plans. Further, Viettel promises free healthcare information, e-government, news, education, and agriculture support through its "4G-Plus" app.

State Control

As is the case in Vietnam's wider telecoms sector, the state remains the dominant force in the mobile market, with the Vietnamese government in charge of the three largest players.

Indeed, the state’s slice of the market is growing; together, Viettel, MobiFone, and VNPT-Vinaphone controlled 97.8 percent of all subscribers at December 31, 2016, up from 94.5 percent in 2015.

For its part, VNPT-Vinaphone aims to install 15,000 4G BTS nationwide by the end of 2017, having launched LTE-based services in November, while MobiFone has yet to announce a date for its commercial 4G switch-on.

International Targets

As well as Viettel’s domestic ambitions, as evidenced by its impressive LTE rollout, the company has set its sights further afield. It currently operates in Cambodia, Laos, Timor-Leste, Haiti, Peru, Mozambique, Cameroon, Burundi, and Tanzania. It has also won a license in Myanmar and is eyeing up new opportunities in Indonesia and Nigeria.

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The group’s international unit Viettel Global targets revenue of over $1.3 billion in 2017, up from $1.0 billion last year. The firm signed up 7.4 million new subscribers during 2016, ending the year with a customer base of 90 million across its 10 markets of operation.

 

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Pete Bell

Pete Bell

Pete Bell is a Research Analyst for TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database and also contributes to the daily CommsUpdate newsletter. He has a particular interest in wireless broadband and was responsible for TeleGeography’s 4G Research Service until it was integrated into GlobalComms.

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