Interview: Tran Manh Hung
What investment opportunities are being created by advances in Vietnam’s telecoms networks?
TRAN MANH HUNG: Vietnam’s telecoms sector is currently experiencing rapid changes. Thanks to the government’s open policies, Vietnam’s telecoms market has grown significantly in recent years. Currently, there are six operators with mobile services licences, with three of these operators accounting for about 90% of the market share. So far, 72 enterprises have been granted licences for telecoms service provision, and 63 enterprises have been licensed to provide internet services. Vietnam’s telecoms market is saturated and competitive: in late 2015 the total number of mobile subscribers reached 122m, at a ratio of 140 subscriptions per 100 people, while the broadband fixed-line segment had 8.2 subscriptions per 100 people.
In reality, however, domestic telecoms operators are not merely competitors, but also partners in the development process. The cooperation between telecoms operators has a positive impact on the provision of the services connecting people and businesses.
Today, the telecoms sector offers few opportunities for foreign firms to access the domestic market. However, with the trend toward the convergence of telecoms and IT, content sharing and value-added services are now playing increasingly important roles in creating revenue for operators. The switch to digital services has created many opportunities in areas such as platform, cloud computing and big data services. Foreign partners – that is, investors with solutions, applications and rich content services that are attractive and suitable to the Vietnamese market – would do well to consider investing and cooperating with telecoms operators in Vietnam.
Which value-added services or products will ensure growth for telecoms operators in Vietnam?
HUNG: With the development of mobile broadband and network technologies, telecoms operators are under pressure to meet the requirements of customers through the development of mobile and fixed high-speed broadband network infrastructure. At the same time, however, traditional revenue streams are shrinking and competition is getting more fierce. For telecoms operators, the decline in traditional services is inevitable, due to the emergence of alternative technologies and services. However, the transformation of these new services also creates opportunities and is the future of the industry. Digital services will promote the growth of telecoms operators in the future, including mobile financial transactions, mobile ecosystem, over-the-top services, ecosystem TV and media, cloud ecosystem services, the internet of things, large databases and big data.
How important is high-speed mobile internet?
HUNG: Mobile communication has become an essential service. Mobile communication networks now cover all regions of the country including mountainous areas and islands. Over 90% of the country’s area has 3G coverage and this accounts for 95% of the national population.
Basic mobile services have helped enhance information exchange among people and businesses, while increasing productivity and reducing costs. Clients, including small and medium-sized enterprises, have been able to more easily gain access to vital information on products, services and markets. This has helped stimulate economic development. In addition to the basic mobile services, the increasing prevalence of mobile applications such as payment and money transfers have brought convenience to the customer and quickened the speed of business.
More importantly, mobile communication is also a vital channel for the government to reach people and businesses. Much of the information disseminated, especially in emergency situations such as natural disasters, is disseminated through mobile networks.
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