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5G technology landscape in Vietnam booming

Vietnam is recording the fastest growth with a double-digit compound annual growth rate for 2019-2024, according to information shared by state-run organisation Viettel. The local market was valued at US$ 165 billion in 2018 and is forecast to reach US$ 294 billion in 2024.

In the region, Singapore will most likely be the first nation to put 5G into operation, followed by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, a press release has said.

Last month, in Vietnam, the two largest mobile operators (Viettel and MobiFone) gained licenses for testing 5G technology in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), respectively. Viettel will conduct its pilot with less than 140 stations on the bandwidths of 2,500-2,600MHz, 3,700-3,800MHz, and 27,100-27,500MHz. Meanwhile, MobiFone will stage its pilot on the 2,600MHz bandwidth with around 50 stations. The licenses are valid until 30 June 2021.

Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) is also making final preparations for the launch of the commercial pilot 5G networks next month, with the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) allowing VNPT to launch the 5G commercial pilot in Hanoi and HCMC. VNPT will provide the service at no charge at some sites.

A VNPT representative said the process of preparing for the 5G commercial pilot was conveniently underway and its 5G service speed is estimated to be 10 times faster than the average speed of the current 4G service.

The providers have worked with leading 5G equipment suppliers in the world to pave the way for the commercial pilots. MIC has said that 5G technology is expected to be commercialised from early July 2021. Currently, smartphone manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, and Oppo have launched devices supporting 5G, signalling that most major smartphone players are on board with the technology.

Similarly, Thailand is also urging the commercialisation of 5G. In February, the country’s government raised more than US$ 3 billion from the auction of 5G licenses. A recent report showed that the number of digital consumers in Southeast Asia will reach 310 million by the year-end, a number previously forecast to be reached in 2025. These consumers make up 69% of the region’s population aged 15 and above.

Although digital transformation has been underway for some time in the region, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition. Due to social distancing measures, more people are adopting home-centric lifestyles and are shopping for groceries, clothing, electronics, and furnishings online. Online retail penetration in the region accounts for 5%, higher than India’s 4%.

Further, MIC and the Market Licensing Division of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority decided to shut down old-tech wavebands so that network operators can optimise operations and reserve frequency resources for new technologies. By getting rid of 2G and 3G technologies, countries are free to apply different methods and have different targets. Deploying 5G mobile technology simultaneously with 2G, 3G, and 4G networks will be expensive and ineffective.

Shutting down 3G networks would be less costly because the number of terminals for them is less than the devices that only support 2G. Also, 3G is an incomplete data transmission technology that has a higher data transfer speed than 2G, but it does not support high-speed interactive services such as television, video, and streaming like 4G technology does.

Although shutting down 2G will be harder, the government will be able to accelerate the implementation of the national digital transformation programme by 2025 approved by the Prime Minister, which notes that 4G/5G and smartphones will be promoted for every Vietnamese citizen.

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