ESports could be lucrative for 4G, 5G service providers

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 As the telecommunication market is getting saturated, new content services such as livestream and e-sports are expected to help telecom carriers maintain growth.


In recent years, Vietnam has been listed among leading countries in the development of telecommunication indexes and digital infrastructure.

As of December 2021, Vietnam had 123 million mobile subscribers, or 127 mobile subscriptions per 100 people.

However, the problem is that the number of mobile phone subscribers has not increased in the last five years. If compared with the number of subscribers of 120 million reported in 2017, the growth rate is just 2.5 percent.

Latest statistics show that the total revenue from telecom services in 2021 was $5.7 billion, which is just a little higher than that of the last three years, and lower than 2016 and 2017.

Both revenue from mobile telecom and new subscribers has been flat these years. With the number of subscribers far exceeding the population (123 million vs 97 million people), the domestic mobile market has become saturated.

The revenue structure of the telecommunications industry is changing with revenue from traditional voice call and SMS services on the decrease. Instead, revenue from data services accounts for an increasingly high proportion. The promotion of data consumption therefore has a positive impact on the domestic telecommunications market.

Analysts say that games and eSports are the biggest data consumers. Each eSports match like PUBG Mobile VN or Freefire lasting about 15-20 minutes will consume about 20-40MB of 3G/4G capacity.

eSports livestreams always attract a high number of viewers via popular platforms such as Twitch, Facebook Gaming and YouTube. This also helps increase data consumption.

Livestreaming eSports tournaments has been mushrooming in recent years because many traditional sports tournaments have had to cancel because of Covid-19. Newzoo reported that the number of people watching game livestreams via digital platforms has increased steadily by 10 percent since 2019.

It was estimated that 662.7 million eSports viewers in 2020, while the figure is expected to climb to 1 billion by 2024. The predictions are even more optimistic for Southeast Asia, 20 percent per annum.

In Vietnam, ESports White Book 2021 showed that there are 40 million players in the game market, including 18 million who once played eSports.

Young people at the ages of 13-22 account for the highest proportion in the community of players, 75.8 percent. They use smartphones, access the Internet regularly, and they are willing to pay for online services.

Analysts believe that gamers and game livestream viewers will become important clients accelerating the development of 5G.

An Internet connection is a prerequisite condition for gamers to join the eSports community. eSports, with high quality of graphics and team play, demand increasingly fast and smooth connections.

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has licensed three large mobile service providers - Viettel, VNPT and MobiFone – to trial 5G services in the four largest cities of Hanoi, HCM City, Da Nang and Hai Phong.

In Vietnam, the 5G average speed is 500-600 Mbps, or 10 times higher than 4G, which helps improve the experience for both gamers and eSports watchers.

“With 5G, games will have better download and livestreaming speed. However, it’s the capability of improving the latency of 5G which will most affect the eSports community,” he said.

All players need to have certain equipment to play eSports, depending on the competitions they participate in. On average, each gamer has to spend at least $250 a year for associated equipment, such as PC/laptop, smartphone, earphone and internet line (4G, and 5G in the near future).

Analysts say that eSports is a new business environment with great potential for mobile network operators. It will be a new source of income for telecom carriers once the traditional telecom service market is saturated.

Nguyen Phong Nha, Deputy Director of Telecommunications Authority, said Vietnam’s internet traffic increased by 40 percent from January 2020 to October 2021, from 4,955 Petabytes to 6.997 Petabytes. The figure once reached 7,824 Petabyte in August 2021, when some localities were under lockdown.

As of October 2021, Vietnam had 18.8 million broadband fixed internet subscribers, 95.34 percent of which were FTTH (fiber to the home). Internet in Vietnam is one of the cheapest in the world.