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Vietnam Urges 4G/5G Network Usage

The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) has proposed that Vietnam stop the use of 2G and 3G technologies from 2022 to encourage people to use 4G and 5G networks. Circular 43 on national technical standards on terminal devices for terrestrial mobile information and wireless access will take effect from July. The legal document stipulates that terminal devices for mobile information, made in Vietnam or imported, must be supported with 4G technology. Over 20 million mobile phones are sold in Vietnam each year, 60% of which are smartphones, and 40%, or 8 million products, are feature phones.

According to a press release, once the circular takes effect, it will have an impact on feature phones that only support 2G and 3G, thus increasing the need to switch to 4G and 5G. As for the operational 25.6 million subscribers using 2G/3G phones, the devices will step-by-step leave the networks (the average life cycle is three years), once there is no more supply.

According to the Authority of Telecommunications (AoT), the policy on supporting poor and near-poor households to access 4G/5G technologies has been set in the draft public utility telecommunications programme in 2021-2025. Under the programme, the government will give support for 2.1 million smartphones to poor and near-poor households nationwide. MIC has proposed a roadmap on stopping 2G/3G technologies under which the old technologies would be stopped from 2022 at the soonest. It is expected that from September 2024, when business licenses expire for mobile telecom services and licenses for frequency to develop mobile networks, MIC won’t extend the licenses for 2G/3G technologies. Therefore, switching to new technologies and devices, and the stopping of old technologies will be deployed drastically in the coming period.

AoT said that to accelerate digital transformation, some localities, including Da Nang and Co To District of Quang Ninh province, want to stop using old technologies and encourage the use of smartphones. Meanwhile, Da Nang, Hue, and Binh Phuoc have requested that MIC and enterprises try 5G in their localities. Telecom carriers have launched commercial 5G trials: Viettel in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Binh Phuoc, Thua Thien-Hue, and Da Nang; VNPT in Hanoi, HCMC and Binh Phuoc; and MobiFone in HCMC.

The 5G technical and commercial trials have caught attention, which will help stimulate market demand for 5G technology and devices. According to AoT, VoLTE technology allows HD calls on a 4G network and offers a new high-end experience to customers. However, the number of subscribers using the technology on 4G network in Vietnam is much lower than that in other regional countries.

Vietnam has promoted the use of technology for smartphones to fight COVID-19 with a series of technological solutions launched, including Bluezone, which helps trace infection cases, NCOVI, and the Vietnam Health Declaration application. A report found that more than 29% of subscribers using smartphones have installed Bluezone.

Telecom carriers have launched many programmes to promote the use of smartphones by providing data experiences to users. And designing specific service packages for those who shift to use smartphones. The country is among the top ten countries with the highest number of smartphones, accounting for 63.1% of the population.

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