4G has been in use in Vietnam for 1.5 years. VinaPhone was the first network operator to launch 4G services in the domestic market.
Figures about the number of 4G users to date are not available. Of three service providers, only Viettel has publicized the number of its clients.
By the end of March 2018, or one year of providing service, it had 10.6 million 4G subscribers, accounting for 25% of Viettel’s total clients.
If considering subscriber density, Ca Mau unexpectedly had a higher ratio of 4G subscribers to total mobile subscribers, followed by Da Nang, Bac Ninh and Hanoi.
Data users (both 3G and 4G) amount to 40% of total mobile subscribers of Viettel, according to Viettel’s deputy CEO Le Dang Dung. The military group is now trying to increase the figure to 60-70% by developing subscribers from current 2G users.
When subscribers shift from 2G to 3G or 4G, they tend to use more service capacity, which means that network operators have higher revenue from 4G users.
As for Viettel, in Ba Ria – Vung Tau province, the average revenue per subscriber increased by VND50,000 with use of 4G, while in Binh Thuan, the revenue increased by 7-10%.
According to Thieu Phuong Nam from Qualcomm, even if the 4G service fee is equal to 3G, network operators will still make higher profits when providing 4G, because the cost of providing 1GB of 4G network is 70% lower than 3G.
Nam said the current 4G service fee set by network operators is ‘reasonable’.
Time for 5G?
As the world has begun preparing for 5G, experts believe that Vietnam also needs to think of doing the same.
At present, 4G can satisfy users who watch live video and play online games in terms of high-speed transmission and low latency.
The difference between 2G and 3G is the supplement of internet services (there are only voice and SMS services for 2G), while the difference between 3G and 4G is the higher-speed internet service (50Mbps).
With 5G, the speed goes up up to 10 Gbps and latency of less than 1/1,000 of second, which is low enough for computer-to-computer communication.
Nguyen Thi Kim Dung, CEO of Nokia Vietnam, said Vietnam may make the first tries with 5G from 2020, so that 5G can be used by 2021-2022. She said it would take a process to prepare, so there was no need to wait until the right moment.