VietNamNet Bridge – The Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) has asked for the Ministry of Information and Communication’s (MOIC) intervention, so that EVN Telecom can “borrow waves” from other mobile networks (roaming). However, big mobile network operators have expressed disagreement.
In early 2010, EVN once expressed a wish to share network infrastructure with other mobile network operators. In reply, the network operators frankly answered that they did not want to share network infrastructure with anyone. At that time, a representative of EVN said in local newspaper that EVN Telecom was facing big difficulties, because big mobile network operators, such as Viettel or VNPT (the Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group), were making corrupt use of their dominance in the market, and refused the proposal of EVN for roaming.
“The big networks accept international roaming, but they refuse roaming with domestic network operators,” the representative complained.
The story then fell into oblivion.
However, EVN did not give up. Most recently, Dao Van Hung, Chair of the Member Board of EVN, lodged a petition to MOIC, asked for the permission to have roaming with domestic mobile networks.
According to Hung, the total investment capital of four mobile network operators, including EVN, on 3G network, is estimated at four billion dollars, and every operator will have to spend one billion dollars.
When asking for permission to provide 3G services, network operators commit to investing 1.7 billion in the first phase of development and building 15,000 3G base transceiver stations (BTS). As such, in the next years, mobile networks will invest 2.5 billion dollars more to complete the 3G networks with 30,000 BTS. Hung stressed that if EVN Telecom can share the same infrastructure by roaming with 3G and 2G networks, mobile networks will be able to save one billion dollars.
However, big mobile network operators do not think this way. In the response to the EVN’s proposal, Hoang Son, Director of Viettel Telecom, said that mobile networks just make investments big enough to satisfy their clients, while they do not try to cover the clients of other networks. The infrastructure has been developed based on the business strategy of mobile network operators.
Son stressed that such a type of roaming is not applied in anywhere else in the world.
It is not easy for Viettel to develop such a large network like the one it has nowadays. Viettel’s workers have to the ends of the earth to build up BTS. Especially, in some places, the cost for BTS is six times higher than in other places.
“Wide coverage of 2G and 3G networks is not the competitive edge of Viettel,” Son said.
In fact, Viettel has agreed to provide network infrastructure to Dong Duong Telecom, a virtual mobile network operator. However, Viettel said in this case, Dong Duong has to make commitments about the capacity to be used so that Viettel can draw up reasonable investment plans to avoid obstructions.
Sharing the same view with Viettel, Nguyen Dang Nguyen, Deputy Director of MobiFone, said MobiFone still has to make heavy investment to serve its clients, and it cannot think of satisfying the demand from other networks. Moreover, he said the wave coverage and quality service are the competitive edges of mobile networks, therefore, they cannot give their “competitiive weapon” to anyone.
A manager of VinaPhone said that EVN Telecom seems to misunderstand the concept of “sharing the same infrastructure”. Mobile networks can share the transmission, or BTS poles, while they do not share in roaming. He said that if all networks decide not to invest to expand the coverage, and use the infrastructure of other networks, the national plan on infrastructure development will be in danger.