Viettel rolling out 4G infrastructure ahead of nationwide launch

Vietnamese market leader Viettel is hastening the deployment of its 4G infrastructure so that it can deliver nationwide coverage when its 4G service launches next month.

Viettel Group deputy general director Tao Duc Thang noted that the deployment of 16,000 4G base stations had been completed by early March, with a further 36,000 4G sites scheduled for completion in April. The group has extended coverage to 70% of the population within four months, and in another two months aims to cover 95% of the population, delivering 4G services to all cities and provinces in Vietnam.

Thang added that this coverage plan includes remote rural areas, noting that although the group’s 4G network is substantially larger than its 3G network, it has taken far less time to deploy. Viettel’s 3G infrastructure was rolled out over a period of eight years.

Although Viettel has not yet specified a date for the official launch of its nationwide 4G service, in March it revealed that it was drafting plans that would be delivered to the Department of Telecoms for approval.

Viettel is not the first operator to launch 4G services in Vietnam, with number three VinaPhone deploying services in November last year. However, its coverage was limited to Phu Quoc Island, rather than being delivered on a nationwide scale.

In October last year, Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications provided four operators with licences to provide 4G services in the 1.8GHZ band. However, the Ministry has already issued a recommendation that operators revise their 4G packages as currently only subscribers are being provided with free 4G SIMs.

Thang noted that Viettel is requesting that the MIC allow the operation of 4G services in the 2.6GHz band so that it can increase its 4G capacity in anticipation of the service gaining huge traction across the country. The military-run operator has a 37% market share in Vietnam with 51 million subscribers. It has already launched 4G services in several of its other markets, including Burundi, Cambodia, East Timor, Haiti, Laos and Peru.

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