SK Telecom to continue investment in S-Fone; MIC to revoke up to 60m mobile numbers

30 Nov 2009

South Korean telecoms provider SK Telecom has quashed rumours that it is halting investment in Vietnamese mobile operator S-Telecom by announcing it is shifting to joint venture status with it local partner telco Saigon Postel, Lao Dong reports. S-Telecom, which operates under the banner S-Fone, was awarded a network operator’s licence in 2001 following the signing of a 15-year business cooperation contract (BCC) between shareholders Saigon Postel, SK Telecom and LG Electronics the previous October. Under the terms of the BCC, Postel was responsible for the day-to-day running of the cellco, whilst its South Korean partners provided operational resources, equipment, maintenance and consultancy. SK Telecom has reportedly chosen to change to joint venture status as under the BCC, all legal decisions regarding the cellco are made by Postel, which the South Korean partner considers ‘outdated’. The change is still awaiting government approval.

In a separate story, VietNamNet Bridge reports that up to 60 million mobile numbers will be revoked after the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) ruled in June 2009 that individuals must only subscribe to a maximum of three pre-paid SIM cards from each mobile network provider. According to the MIC, network operators must transfer pre-paid credit from excess accounts to others at the request of the user, before stopping services to such numbers. It is estimated that military-run Viettel will lose around 23 million mobile numbers, Vinaphone approximately 16 million and MobiFone 15 million. Viettel has so far completed the procedure for around 18 million subscribers and MobiFone has said that it is about to finalise the move. Vinaphone has announced plans to cancel two million numbers, while the remaining 14 million will be reallocated in December. Furthermore, in another regulatory measure likely to reduce the cellcos’ user bases, pre-paid subscribers have been given until 1 January to register SIM cards or have their service cut off.