Vietnam’s wireless leader lags behind in April; promises to come back strong in May

29 Apr 2005

According to unconfirmed figures from Vietnamese operators, the country’s largest cellco, VinaPhone, fell behind its main rivals in terms of net subscriber additions in April. VinaPhone said that it has signed up an average 3,500 new customers every day so far this month, but it also lost 2,000 subscribers on a daily basis. The second largest operator, MobiFone, said its net daily number of new subscribers rose from 2,000 to 5,000 on the back of a promotional campaign launched on 4 April. Meanwhile, the newest player, the military-owned Viettel Mobile, reported that it has signed up over 3,000 subscribers per day so far this month, and claimed that the figure leapt to nearly 5,000 a day since 24 April following the introduction of a new marketing programme. Viettel says it expects its subscriber base to reach 500,000 by the end of May.

Despite the intensifying competition, VinaPhone decided not to launch any promotional campaigns before mid-May. Its deputy director, Pham Quang Hao, said the company was concentrating on upgrading its network and would switch its focus to attracting new customers when the work was complete. Quang Hao also claimed that Vinaphone had achieved the fastest expansion in the mobile market in the first quarter of 2005, with the number of new customers averaging 100,000 in all three months. Currently, VinaPhone and MobiFone have an estimated 2.8 and 2.7 million users respectively.

Vietnam’s first CDMA network operator, S-Telecom (S-Fone), saw its take-up in April dwindle lower than VinaPhone’s despite advertising costs roughly equal to those of VinaPhone, MobiFone and Viettel added together. According to analysts, S-Fone accounted for 60% of the telecoms market’s total spending on advertising in March. S-Fone launched further promotions during April but still managed to attract less than 1,000 subscribers a day, spending up to USD5.46 to attract each new user, compared to its rivals who spent an average of USD0.75.