Poor 3G mobile applications and unreasonable profit sharing have been cited as the two main reasons explaining why 3G network in Vietnam still cannot show their full advantages.
Nguyen Thien Bang, Deputy Director of VinaPhone Zone 2, one of the biggest telecom service providers, admitted that to date, most of Vietnamese 3G network subscribers only use the mobile 3G for Internet connection.
However, Bang said he does not agree with the opinions saying that 3G will completely replace ADSL. He said the The Internet signal used for 3G phones is unstable and its strength varies within the same city. Besides, the high service fees make 3G unable to compete with ADSL.
Bang also said that the current socio-economic conditions in Vietnam are still not suitable for the development of 3G-based mobile applications. For example, in Japan, a society where making non-cash electronic payments is widespread, there is a large room for the development of such technology.
Sharing the same view with Bang, Le Trung Hau, Marketing Director of Yahoo!Vietnam, said that Vietnam has just exploited five percent of 3G’s capacity.
The representative from the Corporation for Financing Technologies (FPT) said 3G applications in Vietnam are used for simple services, such as checking lottery results or connecting to Internet. Meanwhile, the higher-grade applications, such as NTT Docomo, developed by some firms, have just been used by the firms themselves. He thinks that the applications need another two or three years to be be widely used.
Meanwhile, IT firms do not agree with telecom service providers, saying that the main reason behind the poor applications is the unreasonable profit sharing mechanism. Representative of Telecom A in Vietnam, said that to develop a mobile application for commercial use, telecom service providers demands 70 percent of the profit, meaning that the application programmer gets only 30 percent. Meanwhile, when an application is sold on App store of Apple, it is the other way around. Therefore, he said, it is very difficult to develop mobile 3G applications in Vietnam, though the work is completely within programmers’ reach.
In Vietnam, the first 3G network was launched over one year ago by VinaPhone. However, the number of subscribers remains very modest. Very few? services have been considered as meeting the practical requirements, though VinaPhone said it has been providing more than 50 services. Meanwhile, MobiPhone has been providing over 60.
In general, experts, mobile phone service providers and IT firms believe that Vietnam will need a few more years to see a more robust development of the 3G network’s applications.