Vietnam’s major telecom companies including Viettel, VNPT, Mobifone, CMC, FPT, Vietnamobile, and SCTV have announced a joint support package worth VND10 trillion ($435 million) for consumers across the country.
The package, which will roll out on August 5 and end in November, will double the speed of internet cable services for all internet users. Telecom companies will also provide users with a bump of 50 percent of their cellular data at no additional cost while slashing by half the cost of the most popular data packages.
All traffic to websites with COVID-19 information such as the Ministry of Health and the virus tracking and reporting site Bluezone will be free of charge. Telephone users in areas in which social distancing is in effect under Government Directive 16/CT-TTg will automatically receive 50 minutes of same-network calls, free of charge.
The telecom companies said they want to make it as easy as possible for people to work and study from home, in light of stricter social distancing measures that are now in place in many parts of the country.
Furthermore, Viettel, VNPT and Mobifone will contribute 5,000 VND from each data package purchased or extended by users to the National Fund for COVID-19 Fighting and Prevention.
Viettel, VNPT, FPT and CMC, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communications, will also introduce 17 online platforms designed to help citizens follow, report and track the development of COVID-19 within the country.
"The telecommunication sector has been doing its best to ensure the unimpeded flow of accurate and positive information. It is also building digital platforms and applications, to help citizens learn about preventing the spread of the virus," said the Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung.
"This package is another step taken by the sector to support the people of Vietnam in the fight against the virus. The country will surely overcome the virus to emerge in the new normal, as a stronger digitalised society,” he said.
The ministry lauded telecom companies for their contributions to the national effort to fight off the pandemic. Since the beginning of 2020, telecom companies in Việt Nam have rolled out numerous discounts, support packages and COVID-19 awareness campaigns worth over a billion US dollars. Of that, the big three Viettel, VNPT and Mobifone, have contributed over 900 million USD.
Speaking to companies in the sector, Minister Hung stressed the importance of supporting businesses and citizens in difficult times.
"In good times, people use services provided by telecom companies and help the sector grow. In difficult times such as this, it's their turn to return the favour," said the minister.
"Good businesses must look to nurture their market," he said.
"During the pandemic, the Internet has become, at times, the only means of communication available to connect citizens and the government," he said. "The stricter social distancing measures are the more demand there is for online communication.”
“Communication has played a vital role in sending help to where help is needed the most."
The minister said COVID-19 is a good opportunity for the sector to ramp up the speed of the country's digitalisation. For example, increasing cellular data limits without slowing down traffic speed presents the sector with a challenge that requires companies to make additional investments in technology and infrastructure networks. This will pay off in the long term when the country makes a strong economic comeback post-pandemic./.