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Vietnam’s MNOs sign landmark agreement to share infrastructure

Friday, June 12, 2020, 10:02 GMT+7
Vietnam’s MNOs sign landmark agreement to share infrastructure
Viettel technicians work on a cell tower in this file photo. Photo: Dieu Linh / Tuoi Tre

Four domestic mobile network operators (MNOs) in Vietnam have reached consensus on sharing telecommunications assets including base transceiver stations (BTS), enabling each operator to have enhanced infrastructure capacity.

The four service providers — Viettel, VNPT-Vinaphone, MobiFone, and Gtel Mobile — signed the agreement on sharing telecoms infrastructure at a meeting on Wednesday chaired by the Telecommunications Department under the Ministry of Information and Communications.

This is the first time such an agreement has been reached within Vietnam’s mobile service sector.

Viettel, VNPT-Vinaphone, and MobiFone are on track to share and develop new telecoms infrastructure components in 2020.

Specifically, Viettel and MobiFone will establish 24 new infrastructure sites for shared use; MobiFone will utilize 480 BTSes from Viettel; Viettel will use 14 from MobiFone; VNPT-Vinaphone and Viettel will pool a total of 554 stations for mutual use.

All four providers also agreed on sharing cell sites: VNPT will make use of 242 sites from Gtel Mobile in 2020-21, while MobiFone plans to add 20 sites, and Viettel 64, to their respective networks from Gtel.

Likewise, Gtel reserves its right to use cell sites from Viettel, VNPT-Vinaphone, and MobiFone for future expansion plans.

“Sharing infrastructure between service providers means saving up on the national budget as well as cutting back on each firm’s expenses,” said Hoang Minh Cuong, director of the Telecoms Department under the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Viettel vice-director Tao Duc Thang holds a similar stance when it comes to sharing resources.

According to Thang, each mobile network operator in Vietnam is approaching full coverage of the Vietnamese population, rendering the infrastructure rivalry between the firms unnecessary.

The next big goal of 5G coverage, however, calls for an effort to develop a unified, capable infrastructure through resource pooling between MNOs.

Huynh Quang Lien, vice-director of VNPT Group, also endorsed the joint agreement by drawing an example from the country’s Southeast Asian neighbor Singapore.

“Singapore recently ratified the development of a shared 5G infrastructure, which will drastically bring down the cost of network investment,” Lien said.

Nguyen Truong Phi, director of Gtel Mobile, revealed that the firm’s network is still operating on 2G standards.

In an attempt to remodel its service with 5G technology, partnership with big players in the sector is considered a pivotal move for Gtel to stay in the game.

Viettel, Mobifone, and VNPT-VinaPhone are the three largest telecom operators in Vietnam, claiming over 90 percent of the domestic market share, according to a 2019 report by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

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Xuan Tung - T. Ha / Tuoi Tre News

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