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Vietnam to commercialise 5G in October 2020

Image credit: Ministry of Information and Communications

Vietnam will commercialise 5G networks in October using entirely domestically-produced equipment, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC).

In January, the first video call using a 5G connection on a gNodeB transceiver, researched and produced by state-run organisation Viettel, was successfully implemented.

The country is one of the few in the world that can produce 5G equipment. MIC will facilitate directing Vietnamese businesses to invest in research and the production of 5G equipment towards commercialising products.

According to a press release, Vietnam is building a roadmap to abolish 2G mobile phone technology from 2022. It is implementing bidding and licensing of the 2.6 GHz mobile band to improve network quality and the speed of mobile services.

Telecom infrastructure has seen an important change in frequency infrastructure. Indigenously-produced equipment is an important step for socio-economic development and ensuring national defence.

The ministry’s Department of Information and Technology noted that the development of the 5G networks has been one of the key orientations to upgrade digital infrastructure, serving national digital transformation.

To implement this orientation, an important step is researching and mastering the design and manufacturing of chips and 5G network equipment.

The government’s Make in Vietnam strategy is helping the country escape the middle-income trap. It aims to produce chipsets for 5G network and internet of things (IoT) equipment.

The government has offered preferential policies for production as it is a high-tech area. Many Vietnamese firms such as Viettel, FPT, and Vingroup have been studying to produce equipment.

A representative from Viettel said it used up to 300 out of more than 1,000 IT engineers for research programmes into 5G production. The group has approved an estimated VN 500 billion (US$21.6 million) for the development of Microcell 5G and investing VN 200 billion into a 5G lab.

Viettel has worked with partners in the US, South Korea, and India to produce chipsets, software, and hardware for 5G.

Another representative from VinSmart said the company had focused on research and the production of 5G and IoT equipment. It also VinSmart built a lab for the research and development of 5G mobile phones and telecom equipment.

Vinsmart will start 5G telecommunications equipment testing in August.

Vietnam’s microchip industry is not new and has been in place since the 1990s, but due to a lack of ecosystem, firms have few local buyers for their chips.

The number of Vietnamese companies making chips is modest and most foreign companies open factories in Vietnam to produce chips.

The state needs to provide support to local firms through corporate tax exemptions and personal income tax at high-tech parks.

Further, recently, the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HUTECH) and Viettel High Technology Industries Corporation (VHT) recently signed an agreement to research and produce 5G chips.

Under the agreement, the two sides will work together on the research and development of 5G integrated microchips, providing human resource training, deploying new technologies, and sharing experiences.

Through the co-operation, VHT expects to accelerate research on science and technology at universities by bringing experiments to business. The two sides agreed to resolve issues such as training, scientific research, and technology transfer as well as other sectors based on mutual benefits.

A contract was also signed under the agreement. Accordingly, HUTECH will provide consulting services, receiver design, and transmitters for 5G chips for VHT.

VHT’s general director said the design and production of 5G chips under the Viettel brand would be an important step in its journey to master all technologies related to 5G.

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