February 21, 2024

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Vietnam’s Digital Future: 4G and Beyond

Around 15 million subscribers who are currently using 2G will be required to transition to 4G as the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) plans to deactivate the 2G network by September next year, coinciding with the expiration of frequency licenses issued to carriers deploying 2G.

Image credits: VietnamPlus

The Ministry initiated discussions regarding the network shutdown as early as 2020, providing users with sufficient time to make the transition. It also implemented regulations that year prohibiting the import of 2G devices. Any current devices entering the Vietnamese market are doing so through unofficial channels. Network operators’ statistics indicate that the country presently has approximately 15 million 2G subscribers.

The Ministry has provided frequent updates regarding the decision and recently held a seminar on how discontinuing 2G signals will move more people to the digital environment. Nguyen Phong Nha, Deputy Director of MIC’s Vietnam Telecommunications Authority, stated that the Ministry is inclined to roll out 6G technology by 2030. As a result, 2G technology phones will no longer be in use, imported, or circulated in the market.

2G devices in Vietnam are reaching the end of their usage cycle. As these devices break down, users will need to replace them with newer alternatives. Furthermore, in anticipation of the plan, mobile telecommunications carriers are formulating policies to assist users when 2G signals are discontinued. These policies primarily concentrate on providing support for terminal devices and telecommunication charges.

Presently, a few major network operators have deactivated 2G and 3G signals in areas with low demand for these services. Moreover, network operators are offering affordable 4G phones priced at approximately VND 300,000 (US$ 12.5), catering specifically to a segment of customers who only require basic voice and texting services.

Nguyen Trong Tinh, Deputy General Director of Viettel Telecom, noted that state-run group Viettel achieved the milestone of being the first network operator to successfully migrate most of its 3G subscribers to 4G. This transition has resulted in only about 0.2% of customers continuing to use 3G services.

The group plans to offer more support to customers by adjusting charges and providing 4G service prices at reasonable rates. The objective is to make these prices comparable to or even lower than current 2G services, aligning with the preferences and payment capabilities of the customers. Moreover, in terms of terminal devices, Viettel has supported 50% of the device price for 2G customers switching to 4G for the past two years.

Tinh explained that phasing out obsolete technologies in favour of newer ones is poised to yield significant economic benefits and resource optimisation for telecommunications businesses. This strategic shift allows companies to allocate resources more efficiently and stay at the forefront of technological advancements.

Viettel also collaborates with phone manufacturers to assist customers in getting smartphones at discounted prices, typically around 60-70% off for a single phone. For 4G phones offering voice and texting services, Viettel provides support for purchase costs, offering discounts of up to 50%, depending on individual customer circumstances.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Quoc Khanh, Deputy Head of the technology department at VNPT Group, has said that the company will give away smartphones, subsidise phone prices, and introduce appealing packages for customers residing in remote areas and islands who are still using 2G.

However, despite these efforts, the percentage of 2G subscribers in Vietnam remains relatively high compared to other countries in the region and developed nations. Approximately 16% of subscribers in Vietnam are still exclusively using 2G.


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