In late 2016, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) licensed the five operators of VNPT, Viettel, MobiFone, Vietnamoblie and Gtel to use the radio frequency band of 1,800 MHz for their 4G services.
Apart from Gtel, the four other operators now have their own 4G networks. While the VNPT and Viettel 4G networks are based on the 1800 MHz frequency band at the bandwidths of 10 MHz, 15 MHz and 20 MHz, the Mobifone operates at 10 MHz bandwidth.
More than a year since the 4G services officially started to be offered and there have been over 13 million more mobile broadband subscribers, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the total mobile broadband subscribers. The additional numbers are mainly in cities and towns across the country. The average amount of subscribers making mobile data exchange in 2018 has been recorded at 136,934 per month, doubling the 2016 figure.
Viettel’s Deputy General Director Tao Duc Thang said that local telecom suppliers still use the 1,800 MHz frequency band, which is being used for 2G services, for 4G because the number of subscribers using 2G services decreases, while the number of subscribers of 3G and 4G mobile data increases.
As a result, the operators have had to use 10-15 MHz bandwidths for 4G services. However, the use of the 1,800 MHz frequency band for both 2G and 4G services has actually affected the 4G network speed.
In order to improve the quality of 4G services, the Vietnamese mobile service carriers should have more frequency bands and increase data. They should also upgrade their base transceiver stations (BTS) with an aim of facilitating wireless communications, instead of building new ones to meet the demand of new band frequencies. So the best way is to soon license the mobile service providers to 2,600 MHz frequency band to run their 4G services, he said.
So far, customers have usually complained about the speed and accessibility of 4G services.
Mr. Thieu Phuong Nam, General Director of Qualcomm Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, underlined that Vietnam has made achievements in covering 95 percent of the Vietnamese population with 4G services six months after licensing. However, the mobile service carriers still have limited bandwidths. Thus, they need other frequency bands like 2,600 MHz and 2,300 MHz for 4G to boost their services’ quality.
Meanwhile, Mr. Doan Quang Hoan, Director of the MIC’s Authority of Radio Frequency Management agreed that Vietnamese mobile service companies have used the 1800 MHz band for both 2G and 4G services. Hence, the 4G capacity runs out and the access speed will be much slower.
In mid 2017, the Authority of Radio Frequency Management announced a bidding process for the new 2,600 MHz band. However, the auction has not been conducted yet because the Law on Property Auction, which came into force in July 2017, does not include specific provisions on such kind of property.
Radio frequency bands are special property, so they need a special auction. The MIC has submitted a report to the Government for further detailed instructions.
In order to ensure quality of 4G services, according to experts, the best way is to soon open the 2,600 MHz band. Moreover, the State management agency and mobile service carriers have to make efforts to provide best 4G services to subscribers. Meanwhile, customers should use appropriate devices to ensure good 4G services.
Translated by Van Hieu
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