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Vietnam Transforming the Telecom Landscape

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According to an industry report, telecom carriers in the world have realised benefits from reducing ownership over passive telecommunication infrastructure such as antenna masts or internet fibre optic lines.

Rather than investing in the development of new telecommunications infrastructure, mobile network operators are opting to lease infrastructure from external suppliers. Furthermore, operators are also exploring the option of leasing out the infrastructure they already own to generate additional revenue.

Significant cost reductions in operational expenses can be achieved by network operators through decreased investments in fixed assets such as antenna masts and stations. This not only benefits the operators but also has positive implications for society. Infrastructure sharing alleviates issues related to landscapes and conserves valuable resources.

The trend of sharing telecommunication infrastructure is on the rise in Vietnam, particularly following the issuance of Instruction No52 by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in 2019. Numerous telecom carriers have entered into cooperation agreements to share infrastructure, and this trend is expected to further intensify with the widespread implementation of 5G technology.

As per a representative from one of the top mobile network operators in the country, the company has engaged in infrastructure sharing by utilising around 4,000 base transceiver stations (BTS) from various telecommunications companies and an additional 13,400 BTS established by other investors.

The mobile network operator has implemented infrastructure sharing across all 63 cities and provinces in Vietnam, with the highest concentration of shared items found in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), and Dong Nai.

State-run group Viettel, on the other hand, has opted to share approximately 1,000 BTS locations, poles, and 25,000 transmission optic cables. These shared resources are primarily located in HCMC, Binh Dinh, Kon Tum, Hai Duong, and Ha Giang.

Another major operator shares around 33,000 kilometres of cables and 5,000 infrastructure items specifically for mobile services. Furthermore, cable infrastructure and peripheral networks in various cities and provinces are also part of the sharing arrangement.

Experts have said that this approach assists in addressing challenges encountered during infrastructure development, such as public opposition and potential impacts on urban architecture. In essence, this practice contributes to reducing the overall investments made by society. Instead of constructing three separate BTS, for instance, telecommunication companies only need to build one.

Moreover, passive sharing facilitates a shift from capital expenditures (CAPEX) to operating expenditures (OPEX). This enables enterprises to strategically allocate their expenses and enhance operational efficiency.

The adoption of passive sharing in telecommunication infrastructure is projected to yield savings of 16-35% in CAPEX/OPEX costs. This approach proves beneficial in reducing unquantifiable expenses and time, including negotiations for land acquisition to build BTS and dealing with individuals in construction zones.

Vietnam has been pushing to expand the telecommunications sector. In April, MIC announced an auction for frequencies in the 2300-2400 MHz waveband, enabling operators to advance their 4G and 5G technologies. In May, MIC Minister, Pham Duc Long, attended the 31st meeting of the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) Wireless Group to discuss management-related topics.

These included potential frequency bands for 6G technology, the effective management of broadband satellite beams, expanding wireless internet coverage through band extensions, and the advancements and implications of 5G technology.

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