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Vietnam mobile carriers offer free data to boost contact-tracing app usage

Thursday, August 13, 2020, 11:16 GMT+7
Vietnam mobile carriers offer free data to boost contact-tracing app usage
Smartphone users install the Bluezone contact tracing app at a VNPT office in Vietnam. Photo: Cao Hung / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam’s three largest mobile network operators — VinaPhone, MobiFone, and Viettel — have simultaneously launched free data promotions aimed at smartphone users who download the domestically developed contact tracing app Bluezone.

As a gesture of support for the government’s fight against COVID-19, VinaPhone will offer five gigabytes (GB) of free data for first-time Bluezone users and allow data-free access to the application for all 34 million of its mobile users, a company representative announced on Tuesday.

That same day, competitor MobiFone announced a Bluezone promotion of its own, allowing its users 1GB of free data a day for five days beginning when they download the app, as well as data-free access to Bluezone, with no strings attached.

MobiFone users must text BLZ5 to 999 to claim the promotion. 

Viettel, another of Vietnam’s leading mobile carriers, recently announced that customers who download Bluezone on their personal devices before August 15 will be entitled to 5GB of free data for a five-day period.

Viettel subscribers will need to text BZ to 191 before 0:00 August 17 to access the promotion. 

The promotions are to help the government reach its target of convincing 50 percent of the population to download Bluezone, a number it says will help ensure the app’s efficacy as a COVID-19 prevention solution.

VNPT, the owner of Vinaphonel, previously offered 30GB of data to frontline workers in COVID-19 hotspots, including police officers, civil defense forces, and civil servants working at all levels of various People’s Committees; COVID-19 patients, caregivers, and medical staff at three hospitals in Da Nang; and all residents and tourists quartered in isolation wards throughout the central city.

In a similar spirit, MobiFone offered charge exemptions for the first billing of their C120 plan to medical practitioners and COVID-19 first responders.

The plan includes 2GB of 4G data per day, a charge exemption for in-network calls of less than 20 minutes, as well as 50 minutes of inter-network calls.

The company also gave away 30 days of their D5 data plan to all users living in social distancing zones beginning on August 10.

Bluezone is a smartphone application desgined by Vietnamese developers in a project overseen by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Information and Communications that aims to assist the nationwide effort to combat and prevent COVID-19 spread.

The application utilizes smartphones’ Bluetooth radio signal to alert users if they have been in close contact with suspected COVID-19 bearers. It also aims to help contact tracing when neccessary.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information and Communications recommend that all residents and tourists currently in the country download the app.

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Xuan Tung - T. Ha / Tuoi Tre

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