Up to half Vietnam’s population will have access to high-speed third generation (3G) mobile phone services by the end of this year.
Domestic telecommunication companies VinaPhone and MobiFone have vowed to roll out their services, the first 3G networks in Vietnam, by the end of 2009, with two more networks to be operational in the first half of next year.
VinaPhone and MobiFone, both subsidiaries of telecom giant Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), were among the four telecom companies that were last month granted licenses to offer 3G mobile phone services.
With 3G mobile technology, mobile phone users have access to voice and video calls. The technology also allows the simultaneous use of speech and data services.
VinaPhone is planning to offer 3G services next month through a network expected to be available to about 20 percent of the population.
During the first phases of the network, VinaPhone will focus on providing the technology to the country’s major business and administrative hubs where there’s a high demand for high-speed Internet connections, Vietnam News Agency reported.
The firm, which completed testing its 3G services early last month, expects the new network to extend over 90 percent of Vietnam’s populated areas in the next 10 to 15 years.
VNPT has pledged US$1 billion to help Vinaphone develop the network over the next 15 years.
VinaPhone has also signed contracts with mobile phone producers Ericsson and Motorola and Chinese telecom firm ZTE Corporation to provide 3G equipment and network upgrades to ensure the network can offer Internet speeds of up to 14.4 megabytes per second.
Meanwhile, MobiFone has committed to providing 3G services to 52 percent of the country’s population when it launches its network in December.
MobiFone plans to roll out its network through the country’s most heavily-populated areas first, then urban, suburban and rural areas and then along national highways.
During the first year of the network, the firm’s 3G services will be available in the most densely-populated areas in Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces. Other areas will be covered by the 3G network within the next few years.
Its new network allows MobiFone subscribers to access the Internet with speeds of up to 7.2 megabytes per second.
MobiFone is expected to have 2,400 base transceiver stations by the time the network is launched and 7,700 stations within three years.
Military-run Viettel announced at the August 13 3G license awarding ceremony it planned to launch its network, which will cover 86 percent of Vietnam’s population, in April next year.
The consortium between EVN Telecom and Hanoi Telecom, the fourth company to win a 3G license, also plans to offer 3G services early next year.