Any review of the telecoms market in Vietnam must take into account the nature and structure of the government. Whilst nominally a communist state and therefore a centrally planned economy, it has undergone significant structural change over the years. After revising its attitude to the market economy and the role of the private sector, the government has progressively introduced some competition into the market place, building what it describes as ‘a socialist oriented market economy.’ There is no doubt that this change of policy and outlook resulted in a fresh growth momentum within the nation. Nevertheless it remains a one-party system, moving slowing in the implementing of social and economic reform and simply avoiding some reforms altogether.
The government set ambitious targets in the telecom sector for the expansion of infrastructure. But initially it fell well short of these targets. This began to change, however, mainly on the back of an increasingly competitive mobile sector. Vietnam’s mobile market has grown strongly over the last decade, subscriber number increasing twentyfold in that period. This was evidence that the competition model the government had put in place was working, although with some limitations. The mobile market stalled in 2013 and suffered a major correction in that year. By 2015 growth had returned but was generally slower.
In the meantime, having come late to the internet, Vietnam is finally embracing the higher access speeds offered by the various broadband platforms. Although there has been a surge in subscriber numbers, fixed broadband remains a relatively small but expanding market segment. The fixed broadband services have been largely based on DSL technology; more recently, fibre-based broadband services are starting to replace DSL as the fixed broadband option, with FttH subscriptions growing by more than 150% in 2014. Most significantly, the arrival of mobile broadband has seen widespread access to faster internet speeds. The penetration of mobile broadband services was more than four times that of fixed broadband by 2015 (34% v. 8%). An important aspect of the internet market is that the government has been particularly active in the development of cyber laws, no doubt because of its deeply ingrained political culture of central control.
The significant presence of fixed-line services throughout the country had been against the global trend for a developing economy (a high point of 20% penetration in 2009); however, fixed-line numbers have declined dramatically in recent years and by 2015 penetration had fallen to slightly more than 5%.
This report presents an overview of Vietnam’s telecom market, providing information on telecom infrastructure, operators and the regulatory environment. It includes a set of the most currently available key statistics. There is also some analysis of aspects of the country’s telecoms sector.
- Vietnam’s broadband market is growing strongly, on the back of the mobile broadband sector;
- the mobile market had reached the 150% penetration milestone coming into 2015;
- Vietnam’s second satellite, Vinasat-2, has been launched;
- MobiFone, having been hived off from VNPT, by 2015 was preparing for an IPO, possibly in 2016;
- the MIC revoked the operator licence of struggling S-Fone;
- in 2015 the MIC was preparing for 4G, but the licensing process was not expected until 2016;
- fibre-based broadband subscribers were growing at an annual rate of 100%+ into 2015;
- Samsung became the largest foreign investor in Viet Nam when it launched its project for a US$3 billion telephone handset manufacturing and assembling plant in 2014
- the MIC has set 2017 as the target date for introducing Mobile Number Portability (MNP).
Companies mentioned in this report:
VNPT; Vinaphone; Mobifone; Viettel; S-Fone; EVN Telecom; Vietnamobile (Hanoi Telecom); GMobile/GTel.