Saigon Postel is scaling up efforts to find partners to revive S-Fone’s operations.
After getting the Ministry of Information and Communications’ approval to change its technology from poorly-performing CDMA to HSPA (3G), S-Fone has yet to unveil any technology change plan.
“Details about technology changes cannot be aired at this point of time. However, a meticulous and well-conceived plan is in the making to ensure maximal customer interests and S-Fone’s investment efficiency,” said S-Fone general director Pham Tien Thinh.
Thinh said S-Fone’s operator Saigon Postel is in the process of working with some local and foreign partners about an S-Fone deal. The foreign partners are reportedly a big telecom firm in Asia headquartered in Malaysia and one from the UK.
“S-Fone will consider applying some models with proven success in respect to technology change to optimise investment efficiency and save cost while capitalising on the advantages of our current high-frequency 850Mhz to bring satisfaction to clients and sharpen competitive edge,” said Thinh.
Thinh assumed there was a distance in 3G technology development between Vietnam and the rest of the world and this segment was still full of potential.
Industry insiders assumed capital sources were a key factor for S-Fone’s technology change. Vietnamobile’s foreign partner Hutchison had to pump a big chunk of money to enable the change from using CDMA to GSM technology.
In S-Fone’s case, its operator is facing capital distress since the company ran at losses in three consecutive years from 2008-2010 and by mid 2011 its accrued losses of VND186 billion ($8.8 million).
Regarding Saigon Postel’s major shareholder SaigonTel, with 30 per cent stake, incurred a VND113 billion ($5.3 million) loss in 2011’s financial year.
“Saigon Postel is expediting some viable plans to source financial support for S-Fone. Hence, S-Fone’s development strategy will not be reliant on SaigonTel,” said S-Fone chief Pham Tien Thinh.
S-Fone network currently reports around three million subscribers and less than 1,000 base transceiver stations.
According to General Statistics Office, by late March 2012, Vietnam was home to 134 million telephone subscribers, including 15.3 million fixed line subscribers, down 1.6 per cent on-year and 118.7 million mobile services subscribers, up 3.6 per cent on-year.
Besides, total net revenue from post and telecom services in the first three months of 2012 was VND32.6 trillion ($1.55 billion), a 17.9 per cent jump on-year.