According to an anonymous source reported in VietNamNet Bridge, CDMA cellco HT Mobile has asked the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) for permission to switch its network from CDMA to GSM-based technology. The source said that officials met last week to consider HT Mobile’s application. Though the cellco, a joint venture between Hong Kong’s Hutchison Telecommunications International Limited (HTIL) and Hanoi Telecom, has not confirmed the report, it is known that in September 2007 it stopped investing in its existing infrastructure.
HT Mobile launched CDMA 850MHz services in January 2007 with the aim of attracting one million subscribers by the year end, but according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database it had only achieved 185,000 by the end of September, in a year in which as many as 14 million new mobile phone subscribers (according to local press estimates) were recorded in the country. Fellow Vietnamese CDMA operator S-Telecom added approximately 750,000 subscribers in the first nine months of 2007, its best period since launching in 2003, but it was the GSM cellcos Viettel, MobiFone and Vinaphone which garnered the vast majority of new users. GSM networks are favoured by Vietnamese mobile users over CDMA, despite the latter being a more recent innovation. One inhibiting factor of CDMA is the smaller range of handsets it offers in comparison with GSM, in a youth-dominated market preoccupied with being able to change phones easily and frequently.