Telecoms market eyes untapped potential

The Vietnamese telecommunication market is considered to be one of the most competitive in the region, speakers said on November 22 at a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Vietnamese telecommunication market is considered to be one of the most competitive in the region, speakers said on November 22 at a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City.

"The internet and mobile-phone coverage has increased, and quality has improved. Prices have fallen, too, which allows rural and remote areas to have more access," said Dr. Tran Minh Tuan of the Information and Telecommunications Strategy Institute.

Tuan was speaking at the Vietnam Telecommunications 2013 expo held earlier this week in the city.
Despite higher industry turnover, profits have not risen. In addition, the quality of internet bandwidth and mobile phones remains limited, speakers said.

Average revenue for fixed and mobilephone users continues to fall. Prepaid mobilephone users represent 90 percent of the mobilephone market, which means low turnover and low profit, while fixed phones have declined in the number of users and turnover.

The internet market includes three large companies, including Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Corporation (VNPT), Viettel Group and Financing and Promoting Technology (FPT).

For information technology, the Government has issued many incentive policies for enterprises that have helped improve electronics and hardware as well as software and digital content growth.

Despite the average growth of these three sectors, added value has been limited, and work productivity remains low in comparison with regional countries. Poor training of human resources is also another problem.

"To develop the industry, the Government will promote equitisation of State-owned telecommunication companies and tighten service prices," Tuan added.

Nguyen Manh Hung, deputy general director of Viettel Group, said that a new definition should be created for the national data network, instead of just "telecommunications".

"In the future, telecommunication service providers will give up their current major services because telecommunications combined with information technology has entered every area of our lives, and created four to five times higher income than telecoms," Hung said at the seminar.

Telecommunications takes up 3-5 percent of GDP and will increase as more people begin to familiarise themselves with the national data network because information is now related to data.

"At present, not many countries are aware about this and if Vietnam recognises this, we would have a chance to be first by expanding bandwidth to increase the value of information," he added.

To transfer telecommunication infrastructure to the national information infrastructure, Hung suggested that every household should have access to the internet, 10 Mbps through smartphone, and a 100 Mbps line.

"Bandwidth is necessary to serve all aspects of life," he said.

In the future, the price of equipment will contribute to the success of this strategy.

"We have calculated that if equipment were under 20 USD, the pace of progress would be quicker. Viettel in 2014 will offer smartphones for 30-35 USD, but to have them for under 20 USD, we must wait for assistance from the Government," Hung added.

" Vietnam still has major potential for national information infrastructure. Mobilephone bandwidth and cloud computing are important."

According to the International Telecommunication Union's social telecommunication report, in 2012 Vietnam rose five positions from 86 out of 152 to 81 out of 162 countries in the growth of telecommunications.

It ranked fourth out of 11 in Southeast Asia , 12th out of 27 in Asia-Pacific. In the last decade, it jumped from 107th to 81st place.

In 2011, according to A.T Kearney, Vietnam ranked eighth of 50 countries that are considered to be the most attractive for software outsourcing. This was two positions higher than in 2009, and 18 positions higher than in 2005.-VNA

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