Vietnamobile is in the process of expanding its 3G coverage to all 63 cities and provinces from the current 12.
We want to make a good 3G foundation, but we are well-positioned to deploy 4G, said Elizabete Fong, CEO of Vietnamobile, at its recent press conference to launch Vietnamobile's newest product, the Pizza Sim, which allows customers to mix-and-match call, text, data, and entertainment packages to tailor their individual plan to meet their unique needs.
In cities and provinces where the 3G network has not yet reached, users can still enjoy OTT services, such as Facebook, Viber and Zalo, after the 2G network was upgraded to 2,75G, Fong said.
She said Vietnamobile has strongly focused on providing good coverage quality, targeting young customers in the three major cities. Though Vietnamobile's market share is way smaller than that of the three dominant operators, Fong believed that there is still potential for the network in Viet Nam. "We have been in Viet Nam for 10 years, during which we have seen the mobile market exploding. However, even when the number of subscribers is 140 per cent of the population, there are still a lot of opportunities," she said. "Maybe it is easier for the top three. But being No. 4, we are going to be a challenger."
Both Ha Noi Telecom and Hutchison Asia Telecommunications, the two partners that run Vietnamobile, are currently ranked fourth in terms of telecom market share, after the three major domestic service providers Viettel, MobiFone and VinaPhone. However, Vietnamobile's issues with 3G frequency bandwidth have led to poor competitive advantage against the three major mobile network providers.
If a mobile service provider cannot provide a good 3G mobile network, the company will find it hard to compete with others in the Vietnamese mobile market. The deployment of Vietnamobile's 3G coverage is still facing difficulties. Both telecom firms -- Vietnamobile and EVN Telecoms -- shared the same 3G licence and used the same frequency bandwidth. EVN Telecom was incurring losses and debts, and it, therefore, decided to merge with Viettel Telecoms, due to which Vietnamobile had to deploy 3G frequency bandwidth with a lower frequency after the merger.
Telecos gear up for 3G In late 2015, Vietnam Posts and Telecoms Group (VNPT) announced it would become a 3G network provider with the largest 3G frequency coverage. The group said 11,000 3G stations and more than 7,000 3G base stations with 900 MHz frequency were installed in 2015. Currently, VinaPhone is the only one to successfully deploy 3G 900 Mhz frequency in all 63 cities and provinces. Tran Manh Hung, chairman of VNPT, said the company has asked its provincial telecoms units to work with Vinaphone to expand the frequency coverage zone.
From June to October 2015, VNPT installed an additional 10,000 3G stations. Further, VNPT upgraded the current 3,000 3G base stations. By doing this, VNPT's 3G coverage now covers 90 per cent of the country. Two other major network providers -- VinaPhone and MobiFone -- have also actively focused on expanding 3G coverage to increase their competitiveness.
A report from the Authority of Telecommunications revealed that by late 2015, Viet Nam had 120.6 million mobile subscibers, reaching 133 subscribers/100 inhabitants. According to data from the Ministry of Information and Communications announced in late 2014, the density of people using the 3G network reached 26 subscribers/100 inhabitants. By the end of last year, the actual number reached 40 subscribers/100 inhabitants.