With Gmobile’s recent reception of the licence, Vietnamobile is now the only operator in Vietnam without the new technology.
Vietnamobile, which is the fourth biggest network operator in Vietnam in terms of subscribers, tagging along behind the dominant three of Viettel, MobiFone, and Vinaphone, and above Gmobile, currently provides mobile services on the 900MHz and 2100MHz bandwidths.
According to Circular No. 04/2015/TT-BTTTT issued by the MIC effective from April 20, 2015, network operators are only allowed to provide 4G on the 1710-1785MHz and1805-1880MHz bandwidths. The other four operators were licensed to use the 1800MHz bandwidth for 2G earlier.
According to the broadband development plan ratified by the prime minister in this January, the Vietnamese government plans to expand 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the population by 2020.
Viettel started piloting 4G in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau in December 2015. Vinaphone followed suit in January by setting up its own pilot programme in January, in Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc Island. MobiFone joined the fray in June 2016 by debuting in Danang, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City..
All three operators reported up- and download speeds several times higher than 3G networks. Gmobile is the only licensed operator that has not carried out a pilot programme.
According to the Radio Frequency Department under the MIC, the 2.6GHz bandwidth, also targeting 4G services, will be put up for auction in 2017. The department also said that the MIC will consider allowing 4G on the 900MHz and 2100MHz bandwidths if the operators request it.
Elizabete Fong, Vietnamobile’s CEO, said the operator is focusing on expanding its 3G coverage and is ready to provide 4G, but is waiting for more conducive policies from the government.
Vietnamobile was also the last operator to receive the license to provide 3G. It reported a successful pilot programme in 2011, while all other operators had received their licences by the end of 2009 and started providing 3G by the end of 2010.