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Vietnam Ready For 5G Commercialisation

Image credit: Ministry of Information and Communications

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) identified 5G services provisions in 2022 through indigenously-developed devices as a core mission during a meeting to summarise this year’s tasks and directions. Due to certain infrastructure limits, however, the target is just to offer these services to 25% of the national population in 2025. 4G networks cover 99.8% of the nation and 5G technology has been successfully piloted by three major carriers: state-run group Viettel, VNPT, and MobiFone in 16 cities and provinces. These include Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang City, Hai Phong City, Can Tho City, Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Binh Phuoc, Thua Thien – Hue, Quang Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Thai Nguyen, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Ben Tre, and Ba Ria – Vung Tau. The country is now technically ready for the official commercialisation of 5G services, a press release has informed.

MIC reported that domestic 5G equipment now ranges from the core, transmission, and access networks. They have been effectively exploited in the piloting schemes. Vietnam has finished installing 5G stations using open radio access network (ORAN) technology with download and upload speeds of 900Mbps and 60Mbps, respectively. This is a major improvement to boost 5G device research and manufacturing in Vietnam to serve commercialization tasks in 2022. Nevertheless, major Vietnamese carriers are still reluctant since the low demands of 5G services from domestic users cannot compensate for their large investment amount. Furthermore, as there is no specific data package during the piloting time, it is not easy for mobile network providers to accurately evaluate real market demands.

MIC Minister Nguyen Manh Hung stated during the recent ITU Digital World 2021 event that Vietnam is calling upon the cooperation of all carriers in the first stage of 5G development in the country, which has been wholeheartedly supported by VNPT. Accordingly, each carrier should cover 25% of the national surface area and allow customers to use its own facilities to reduce investment costs. This will result in full coverage of 5G technology nationwide in just one year. In their piloting periods for 5G technology, Viettel, VNPT, and MobiFone adopted this practice. Therefore, if all agree, this solution to formally commercialise 5G is feasible, with thousands of new shared base transceiver stations (BTS) installed throughout the country.

MobiFone proposed only sharing 5G infrastructure among carriers in remote areas with low demand for the sake of saving costs. Additionally, it is necessary to organise effective propaganda campaigns so that the public supports telecoms development according to regulations, and the Public Telecoms Fund is used wisely for remote areas. An industry expert suggested that presently, as the cost of BTS is quite reasonable, it is a good time to invest in them, along with the reuse of existing telecoms facilities for the 4G technology. The number of smartphone owners in the country increased from 59.2% in 2018 to 75% in 2021. This growth coupled with a high demand of services for mobile devices and MIC’s determination to cease outdated mobile technologies in 2022, it is expected that from 2023, all Vietnamese people will own smartphones making 5G commercialisation an inevitable reality.

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