Mobile broadband subscribers in Vietnam are expected to reach 90 million by 2020, given the increasing affordability of smartphones.

At a conference on the future of mobile broadband in Vietnam, held in Hanoi last week, Chris Zull, the spectrum director for Asia under Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), said broadband services were growing rapidly in the country and the number of subscribers was expected to triple by 2020.

The increasing proportion of mobile broadband subscribers promised a rapid socio-economic development thanks to the application of technology, experts said, citing a World Bank estimate that each 10-percent growth of broadband will add 1.38 percent to gross domestic product (GDP).

Revealing researches that showed the contribution of mobile broadband to GDP and improving living standards, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Le Nam Thang stressed that mobile broadband played an important role in socio-economic development.

Thang noted that the anticipated rapid development of mobile broadband raised requirements such as the development of frequency resources and infrastructures.

He revealed that Vietnam had been preparing for the development of 4G service by managing frequency resources efficiently and ensuring the sustainable development of the mobile information market.

At the conference, Suvi Lenden from the United Nations Broadband Commission pointed out that the price of broadband service, theoretically, should account for less than 5 percent of average monthly income, reported.

With the average monthly income at 169 USD, broadband service fee should be less than 170,000 VND (7.9 USD) per month in Vietnam.

Suvi said that with a high proportion of population living in rural areas, Vietnam should lower broadband fees to enable services in the country to grow in coming years.

Nguyen Manh Hung, general director of MobiFone, one of the three major mobile service providers in the country, was quoted by as saying that providers can afford to offer data services at a fee of 5 percent of income.

A representative of Viettel said that 4G service was in a trial stage and was expected to be launched at the end of this year.

The number of 3G subscribers was estimated at nearly 30 million by the end of last year, according to Telecommunications Authority under the Ministry of Information and Communications.-VNA