In that context, the People’s Army Newspaper would like to present an interview with Major General Le Dang Dung, Acting Chairman and Acting General Director of the Military Industry-Telecoms Group (Viettel) about Viettel’s operation and its contribution to the current development of the nation.

Reporter: Could you please give us some assessment of the operation of Viettel in 2019?

Major General Le Dang Dung

Major General Le Dang Dung: In 2019, Viettel earned one slot in the list of top businesses with the highest revenue and profit, contributing the biggest proportion to the State budget. Viettel, for the first time, has become the sole Vietnamese firm among the eight representatives of ASEAN named the world’s most valuable brands. Also for the first time Viettel has had a technology patented and exclusively protected in the U.S. Viettel have also been honored by many organizations around the world for its products, especially in digital transformation. Take for example, Viettel’s smart urban management solution brought home Apicta’s award for the most innovative product in Asia. The International Business Awards has also honored many of Viettel’s products, such as ViettelPay, Viettel Post.

In 2019, Viettel was a pioneer in digital transformation. So far, we have made important achievements, serving as the basis for our development in the next phase of digital transformation. In details, Viettel has built the most modern telecommunications and information technology (IT) infrastructure. It has successfully tested the 5G telecommunications network, becoming one of the few countries in Asia to successfully test this technology. The group has put the NB-IoT platform into use on a large scale, serving to apply telecommunications and IT to every aspect of life. Viettel has also taken part in the e-government construction and successfully developed the e-Cabinet system, contributing to the promotion of IT applications to innovating working styles of the Government. This system has helped save time and costs and improved the effectiveness of governmental management and governance activities, serving as one of the keys to the successful construction of e-government. Viettel has also helped build management models suitable to each locality, of which Thua Thien – Hue province is an example.

We have also completed the development of the ecosystem and digital bank – ViettelPay, and piloted the Mobile Money app. with the motto “where there is telecommunications, there are digital infrastructure and digital services.” Viettel is also a leading one in maintaining cyber-security. The group is assigned to protecting the national sovereignty in the cyber-space and key national digital systems. In research and development (R&D) and manufacturing, we have successfully manufactured types of military equipment comparable to the most modern ones in the world, contributing directly to enhancing the defense power of the nation.

Viettel takes the lead in the development of the 5G technology.

Reporter: Though still developing, Viettel has shown signs of slowing down. What do you think is the cause for it? Is it true that the group has reached its development ceiling?

Major General Le Dang Dung: In 2019, according to Ovum (U.K.), the average revenue growth rate in 2016 of the world telecommunications industry was 4%, while the profit decreased by 1.6%. Although the growth in the domestic market has gradually leveled off, Viettel’s telecommunications sector still grew by 6.4%, which is nearly twice the world average. Meanwhile, the value of investment overseas increased by 24.4%, or six times higher than the world average.

Besides telecommunications, Viettel has also engaged in various other new sectors, such as cyber-security, electronic and telecoms research and manufacturing, digital solutions, digital finance, logistics. These sectors account for an increasing higher share in the group’s revenue. In the coming years, revenue from non-telecommunications sectors may account for up to 30% of the revenue.

Reporter: That Viettel has engaged in defense industry activities has brought an active change in capabilities of weapon and military equipment R&D. Could you share with us Viettel’s direction in this area in the coming years?

Major General Le Dang Dung: One of the key tasks in the research and development of products is that Viettel must upgrade its technologies, master new technologies and provide global business equipment. New technologies include military and civilian ones, 4G and 5G networks, all telecommunications systems, and high-tech equipment that the military may need. Viettel has also planned to expand its R&D to new fields such as IoT or smart terminal devices in the coming time.

In addition, Viettel should also promote international trade, which plays an important role in promoting Viettel products to the world and developing business. Currently, Viettel has promoted its products to 45 countries and so far 10 countries have shown interest in the products. However, promoting abroad products as a result of the R&D still faces many difficulties and needs specific mechanisms and policies. In addition, the products of the R&D and manufacturing unit must meet international standards and each country’s standards and customers’ need.

Reporter: Viettel has succeeded in investing overseas, but currently there also emerge a number of difficulties. Could you share with us your assessment? What is the direction in the coming time?

Major General Le Dang Dung: Nothing lasts forever. It is true for both favorable conditions and difficulties and Viettel always finds opportunities in difficulties. In investment overseas, we once met many difficulties, such as the lack brand and experience and legal barriers in the host countries. Now, after more than 10 years of investing overseas, those difficulties no longer exist for Viettel. The difficulty now is the management over the markets which are increasing in sizes. Competitors have already known Viettel and its capacity and devised more strategies to compete with it. At the same time, the political and economic situations in some countries are unstable, leading to difficulties in business operation and management.

However, the results in 2019 were still very good with the revenue and profit from investment overseas grew rapidly. In details, the revenue increased by 25% reaching USD 1.2 billion, while the pre-tax profit reached USD 156 million. In addition to telecommunications, with its IT strength, Viettel has also strongly engaged in the digital transformation of some countries, including the operation of the e-wallets in African countries, especially Burundi and Tanzania, helping shape a new spending habit for people in Africa. In Mozambique, Movitel (Viettel brand in Mozambique) has been assigned to producing IT products for the country’s e-government development. Generally, after initial difficulties, Viettel has created its own brand in many fields, including telecommunications, when investing overseas.

Reporter: Looking back on the past 30 years of development, Viettel has repeatedly shaped “new realities” for itself and for Vietnam’s telecommunications and IT industry, economy and national defense. What do you think is the “new reality”that Viettel is shaping now?

Major General Le Dang Dung: Viettel is aiming at creating a digital society, in which telecommunications and IT are applied to all aspect of life. To do that, Viettel has to firstly continue to build the most modern telecommunications and IT infrastructure. That is because the digital revolution is essentially based on telecommunications and IT. We have to develop digital platforms on which all people can unleash their creativity.

Secondly, Viettel has to take the lead in developing and offering digital applications and services that determine whether Vietnam will become a digital country or not. The applications include mobile payment, digital ecosystem, e-commerce in association with digital finance, etc. Viettel must actively participate in building and completing the e-government system as it can be seen that an e-government serves as the foundation for the operation of a digital society.

Thirdly, Viettel will promote three hi-tech industries, namely the electronics and telecommunications industry, the defense industry, and the cyber-security industry in order to catch up with the world in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. At the same time, it will also contribute further to the firm protection of security and sovereignty of the nation in both physical and cyber spaces.

Reporter: Thank you very much!

Reported by Ho Quang Phuong

Translated by Huu Duong