December 3, 2020

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Vietnam to replace 2G with 5G networks

The Market Licensing Division of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has decided to shut down old-tech wavebands.

In a press release, the government explained that 2G must be switched off for network operators to optimise operations and reserve frequency resources for new technologies. This will promote the digital society and digital economy.

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.

Therefore, the country believes it is necessary; it will reserve radio frequency bands for new technology, meeting national and network operators’ development goals. Some countries opt to shut down 2G first, while others start with 3G. Vietnam’s mobile network operators also have varying opinions about the issue owing to their different strengths and characteristics in networks and clients.

A representative of the Market Licensing Division of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority, Le Thanh Hoa, noted that she will analyse the advantages and disadvantages of each switch-off method and predict how the methods affect people, businesses, and the country. The research will be submitted to MIC for approval.

Regarding apprehensions about the move, the press release mentioned that people are concerned if it will require them to spend money on new phones. Meanwhile, network operators want to know how to shut down 2G and 3G networks to get the best benefits. The government must evaluate the possible consequences of the project.

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.

On the other hand, the disadvantage is that it will not create breakthrough developments in a society striving for a digital economy and society, which the Party and government are determined to promote, the release said.

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

This will be a revolution that steps up the implementation of e-government, digital economy, and digital society, and serves as a driving force for Vietnam to develop more rapidly and strongly, an important factor to consider.

When 100% of people use smartphones, this will promote the development of digital services, more data services will be used, and network operators will get more revenue and development opportunities.  Many Vietnam companies now can master technology and manufacture smartphones, such as Vingroup, BKAV, and VNPT Technology. These enterprises are capable of making low-cost smartphones, which can compete with products available in the international market.

Powerful enterprises like Vingroup have large production capacity which not only can satisfy the demand for domestic consumption, but also export. This is a favourable step for Vietnam to switch off old-tech waveband and encourage people to use smartphones. The strategy will also encourage Vietnam’s electronics industry to serve the local market of 100 million people.

Once old-tech waveband is shut down, it is necessary to support subscribers that use phones which do not support newer technologies. However, in some countries, the state will not make an intervention into network operators’ decisions to switch off old technologies, which means that network operators have to take the initiative in implementing their plans. Other countries apply policies to encourage the use of new technologies.

Vietnam proposes a roadmap to switch off old technologies in accordance with the national development plan. When switching off 2G, it is necessary to apply a policy to help people shift to smartphones. When the number of subscribers using old-tech networks falls to 5%, then it will be the right time to switch off the networks.