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Viettel and VNPT receive 4G licenses

Released at: 16:08, 17/10/2016

Viettel and VNPT receive 4G licenses

Photo: Duc Anh

Two licensed after conducting successful pilots of 4G services.

by Do Huong

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has licensed Viettel and the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) to establish telecommunications networks and provide 4G services on the 1,800 MHz bandwidth.

The ministry is also considering a 4G application from MobiFone.  

4G is the fourth generation of mobile data transmitting technology, which offers speeds of up to 1.5 gigabits per second, or several hundred times faster than 3G.

The ministry previously approved the piloting of 4G services by VNPT, Viettel, MobiFone and FPT Telecom. Mr. Hoang Son, Deputy General Director of Viettel, said the company has produced 4G handsets for sale in Vietnam.

Viettel completed its pilot in the southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau. The quality of data services on 4G LTE is much better than on 3G, allowing customers to watch HD videos at a resolution of 720p.

Mr. Tran Manh Hung, Chairman of VNPT, said its pilot of 4G in Ho Chi Minh City and on Phu Quoc Island revealed that the transmission rate is equal to current fiber services. However, 4G services cannot replace current fiber services because they meet data use demand of hundreds of Mbps.

MobiFone conducted a trial of 4G services in Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City in May and June, with results showing a maximum download/upload speed of up to 225Mbps/75Mpbs.

FPT Telecom is preparing its trial of 4G services but has not released any detailed information. Vietnamobile also announced it will provide 4G services. “We want to receive a license for 4G services but are waiting for the government’s policies,” Ms. Elizabete Fong, CEO of Vietnamobile, told a recent press conference.

Operators will have to wait until next year to bid for the 4G 2.6GHz bandwidth under MIC’s plans. According to Mr. Mantosh Malhotra, Head of Southeast Asia at Qualcomm Technologies, Vietnam has the advantage of going right to the latest technology - 4G Advance - to deliver exceptional quality and complete its strategic move to provide broadband internet to 95 per cent of the population by 2020.

The government should also go for the further 4G spectrum with the 2.6 GHz band and the 2.3 GHz band to immediately launch Advance 4G services. To help expand 4G use, Vietnam can license the 4G spectrum as low as the 700MH band after digitalizing TV broadcasting.

The Authority of Radio Frequency Management (ARFM) told a recent 4G LTE workshop held in Hanoi that MIC is remaining neutral in its management of the technology used for 4G. It will assign frequency band levels for telcos only, regardless of which technology, such as 3G, 4G, 5G, etc. is to be used. The ministry also doesn’t specify which particular band will be allocated for any technology.

In other news, according to the Department of Telecommunications under MIC, the license issued to the Saigon Post and Telecommunications Services Corporation (SPT) for the provision of mobile phone services via S-Fone has now expired.

The ministry will officially announce the withdrawal of the license in the near future. It has considered withdrawing S-Fone’s 850MHz bandwidth license since 2014 as it has been inactive and no payment has been made for many years.

The bandwidth is the best available and will suit any telecoms operator, some of which have had their eye on the bandwidth since S-Fone ceased providing services.

The actual end of S-Fone has been long in coming, with it having put SPT into debt.

In early 2012 it planned to upgrade its network technology from CDMA to HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) so it may increase its subscriber base. It gained approval from MIC to do so.

In June 2012 it didn’t pay salaries or unemployment insurance to employees and many of its outlets shut up shop. In December 2012 its leaders confirmed that they were unable to repay its debts.

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