S-Phone encounters serious teething problems

16 Oct 2003

The newest entrant to Vietnam’s underdeveloped cellular market, S-Phone, has ended its first three months of operation with just 5,000 subscribers, well short of its target of 50,000, following a series of billing and technical problems. A joint venture between Singaporean company SLD and Saigon Post and Telecommunications Corporation, S-Phone launched CDMA services in July 2003 amid a marketing fanfare boasting billing in ten-second units after the first minute and SMS roaming with the country’s existing GSM operators MobiFone and Vinapone. However, the country’s telecoms regulator, the Ministry of Posts and Telematics, has since told the company it can only charge in ten-second units after the first two minutes, whilst a glut of technical glitches has prevented S-Phone subscribers from being able to send simple text messages to other networks. S-Phone had been aiming for 100,000 users by the end of the year, but is now likely to realise just a quarter of that target.