Vietnamobile, Vietnam’s fourth largest mobile operator by subscribers, plans to expand the coverage of its 3G network nationwide, in order to meet the growing demand for mobile data services. Viet Nam News Biz Hub quotes the company’s CEO Elizabete Fong as saying that 3G services are currently limited to twelve cities and provinces, but the cellco is working towards rolling out the network to all 63. She added that, in areas currently without 3G coverage, customers are still able to access over-the-top (OTT) services, such as Facebook, Viber and Zalo, thanks to a network upgrade to EDGE technology. According to Fong, the acquisition of EVN Telecom by market leader Viettel in early 2012 hampered Vietnamobile’s deployment of 3G, as it previously shared its 3G licence and spectrum resources with EVN. Following the merger of EVN into Viettel, Vietnamobile had to start using lower band frequencies for its 3G rollout.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Vietnamobile launched commercial 3G services in December 2011, offering maximum download speeds of up to 21.6Mbps. Services were initially available in Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City, Da Nang and Hanoi, but since then network coverage has been expanded to Ba Ria-Vung Tau, An Giang, Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan, Dong Thap, Long An, Dong Nai, Thai Nguyen and Binh Duong. The company is a joint stock company (JSC) between Hanoi Telecom Company (HTC) and Hutchison Asia Telecom (HAT), a wholly-owned unit of multinational conglomerate CK Hutchison.