Roadmap to Vietnam's ICT Future

Top level representatives from the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) will present the future roadmap of Vietnam ICT market development at the forthcoming Vietnam Telecomp conference, due to take place in Ho Chi Minh City in November.

Under the theme of "Market Development and Business Opportunities in Vietnam ICT Market in the Integration Era" speakers will unveil a roadmap to ICT development in Vietnam as well as providing details of the country's ICT strategic development plan. Vietnam is one of the fastest growing ICT markets in the world. In April this year the country successfully launched its first satellite, Vinasat-1. In the next few years a number of major developments are planned, including new 3G networks.

Vinasat-1 is a key part of VNPT's development strategy. With 12 Ku Band and 8 C-Band transponders Vinasat-1 provides high quality coverage over Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and part of Myanmar with additional lower quality coverage over India, Japan and Australia. Designed to remove dependence on ground networks, Vinasat-1 transmits radio and TV in addition to communications and was designed to provide 100% coverage of Vietnam's rural communities. VNPT's initial service offerings include satellite frequency leasing, leased lines, mobile broadcasting, DTH, video conferencing, banking data transmission and ISP access lines.

VNPT holds a dominant position in the market with over 11 million fixed-phone subscribers and more than 30 million mobile subscribers to its Vinaphone and MobiFone networks. A total of five other operators, Vietnam Military Telecom Corporation (Viettel), Electricity of Vietnam Telecom (EVN), Saigon Postel (S-Fone), FPT Telecom and Vietnam Data Communication Company currently share an estimated 9 million subscribers, about 20% of the market.

The picture in Vietnam is not all rosy, however. Only this week, VNPT announced reductions to many mobile phone tariffs by as much as 20 per cent and to some fixed line tariffs by up to 30%. It has also improved charging arrangements for customers, offering more per minute billing. VNPT has said the reductions are to trigger demand. However, they are widely interpreted as a response to increased competition from the other operators and falling demand as the global downturn hits traffic volumes. The price reductions will lead to a loss of future income for VNPT which last year posted total revenues of US$2.8 billion.

Competition between Vietnamese domestic mobile operators has greatly intensified recently. According to the Hanoi Times, GSM operators MobiFone, Viettel and VinaPhone have generally been more successful in their pricing strategy than CDMA operators, EVN Telecom, HT Mobile and S-Fone. 

HT Mobile, a Hutchison joint venture, recently ceased operations and obtained permission from the country's regulator to relaunch as a GSM operator in mid-2009, which is likely to lead to an intensification of competition. S-Fone has recently announced increased rates for their call packages, against the market trend, leading to questions about its financial strength and ability to compete in the longer term.

Analysts now forecast there will be o­nly three qualified contestants in the competition for 3G licenses: MobiFone, VinaPhone and Viettel. VinaPhone appears to be the most committed to providing low tariffs and increased access to Vietnam's rural poor. Its latest service package specifically targets low-income customers rural areas.

Vietnam Telecomp aims to facilitate high level technology exchange among ICT professionals and is the largest and longest established ICT event in the country. The symposia, which will be held on 27 & 28 November, cover a comprehensive range of topics including 3G Network and Service Deployment, WiMax, broadband, e-entertainment & multimedia, managed services, next generation networks and wireless & satellite.

Speakers will include representatives from many leading international corporations including Cisco, GDS, Hutchison, Motorola, Qualcomm, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, ZTE, Nokia Siemens Networks, NTT DOCOMO, Orange France Telecom, Samsung and SK Telecom. Vietnam Telecomp will take place on November 26 - 29 at Ho Chi Minh City International Exhibition and Convention Center. The exhibition is expected to occupy an exhibition area of over 6,000 sq.m. and gather around 200 exhibitors.

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