As part of plans to catch up with developed economies, Viet Nam is looking to embrace Industry 4.0.
The number of 5G subscribers in Viet Nam is expected to reach 6.3 million by 2025. Photo: vietnamplus.vn
Party General Secretary, President Nguyen Phu Trong last year signed Resolution 52-NQ/TW on behalf of the Politburo outlining guidelines and policies to actively participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In the resolution, the Politburo set a target of affordable nationwide 5G network coverage by 2030.
To realise this ambitious vision, the Government is planning to test fifth-generation mobile networks in major urban centres such as Ha Noi and HCM City.
The 5G race is heating up globally. Ten countries had commercialised 5G as of September last year, including S Korea, Japan, China, the US, Australia, the UK, Spain, Sweden, Norway and Russia.
To broadcast 5G networks commercially next year will be difficult, but with the technology it could open up new opportunities and create business operation models that could change the economy, helping Viet Nam break out to become a strong tech country. The Government and relevant ministries, localities and telecommunications firms are making efforts to concentrate their resources to reach the target.
Road to 5G
At the ASEAN Conference on 5G and the development of a digital ASEAN held in Ha Noi in March last year, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung emphasised: “In the coming years, ASEAN will consider 5G its number one priority in ICT co-operation activities. Viet Nam is ready to co-operate with other ASEAN members to deploy 5G and promote a digital transformation.”
The minister also said that Viet Nam was focusing on developing tech enterprises and manufacturing IoT devices, telecommunications equipment, 5G chipsets and surveillance cameras.
Viet Nam's e-government development index ranked 88 out of 193 countries in 2018, of which the online public service index rose 10 places to rank 59th out of 193 countries.
The Government has issued the first licence to test 5G for Viettel, the country's largest mobile operator, with more than 60 million subscribers in a country with a population of nearly 100 million.
The telco tested 5G in Ha Noi and HCM City in May last year, and tests are expected to be completed this month.
In April, Viettel said it had successfully tested a 5G broadcasting station in Ha Noi at a speed of 600 to 700 Mbps, on a par with Verizon's network in the US.
Other mobile carriers including MobiFone and Vinaphone are also expected to launch their own 5G networks next year.
MobiFone has been issued a licence to become the second operator to conduct 5G network testing.
Notably, Viettel claimed that it had developed its own core technologies for 5G networks, including chips and devices. In fact, the group said it was aiming to produce 80 per cent of the core network infrastructure needed for the network this year. The rest would come from outside suppliers.
MobiFone has chosen to go with Samsung technology, while Vinaphone is co-operating with Nokia.
In the process of Viet Nam deploying 5G, many leading technology corporations in the world have expressed their interest in working closely with the Government, carriers, and private enterprises to help the country properly implement its 5G coverage plan and commercialise the technology this year.
5G technology would bring a new economy, helping the country create a series of new products for smart cities, said the Viet Nam Telecommunications Authority (VNTA) under the Ministry of Information and Communications.
In the first phase of 5G technology, many Vietnamese enterprises will focus their resources on producing 5G chipset processors. These are considered the "heart" of 5G technology.
Long way ahead with difficulties and opportunities
Although there have been proactive steps in deploying a 5G network, analysts said the road ahead for Vietnamese carriers was full of challenges and opportunities.
The number of 5G subscribers in Viet Nam is expected to reach 6.3 million by 2025, according to a 5G development report published by Cisco in October.
By deploying 5G services, Vietnamese telcos could raise their revenue by up to US$300 million each year from 2025, it noted.
However, Vietnamese mobile service providers would have to invest $1.5-2.5 billion in infrastructure development from 2020-25 to launch and operate 5G services, the report said.
Cisco suggested Viet Nam and Southeast Asian countries needed to address the release of a slow frequency spectrum for 5G services while carriers needed to introduce 5G services with appropriate prices to encourage users to move to higher speeds.
Le Van Thanh, technology director of Dell EMC Viet Nam, emphasised that the country had advantages with a population of a hundred million people, and the rate of smart devices connected to the internet was high compared to the global average.
The Government has also promoted 5G development with the Ministry of Information and Communications providing bandwidth for testing last year, he said.
If it succeeds, Viet Nam would be one of the first countries in the world to deploy 5G, he said.
However, Thanh also said the country would face the challenge of a large number of users still using old devices operating on 2G and 3G.
5G technology requires new devices. In addition, information technology infrastructure used by most enterprises was dated. In order to be ready for 5G technology, businesses must modernise their infrastructure, Thanh noted.
Regarding this issue, Le Dang Dung, chairman cum acting general director of Viettel, said when 5G technology started to boom, Viettel would need its own 5G equipment. Therefore, the group must find a way to successfully develop 5G technology, he said.
More importantly, all 5G hardware and software products would be researched and produced by Viettel in Viet Nam to ensure information security, Dung said.
Determining the production of 5G chipsets was extremely difficult and expensive, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Phan Tam said, adding that the ministry wanted to form a community of businesses and experts to share experiences of 5G chipset production in Viet Nam in the near future.