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First virtual mobile telecommunications network launched

Released at: 15:03, 26/04/2019

First virtual mobile telecommunications network launched

Photo: ITelecom

Indochina Telecom (ITelecom) joined Vietnam's telecommunications market on April 25.

by Jessica Nguyen

Indochina Telecom (ITelecom) became the sixth mobile telecommunications service provider in Vietnam on April 25. Different from the five other existing operators, ITelecom is the first virtual mobile network operator (VMNO) in the country.

Instead of using private infrastructure and radio frequencies, it uses the same infrastructure as existing networks. ITelecom said that in the beginning it would use the same infrastructure as Vinaphone and could expand to other network providers in the future.

According to Mr. Nguyen Phong Nha, Deputy Director of the Telecommunications Department, the use of the virtual mobile network model will save investment costs for businesses and avoid waste of social wealth as enterprises don’t use available infrastructure and radio frequencies.

Though using a different infrastructure model, ITelecom’s telecommunications services are no different from other networks. In addition to mobile communications and data access, the first virtual mobile network provider also provides other value-added services such as ringback tones and call blocking, etc. Charges for in-network communications start from VND750 per minute and VND880 per minute for off-net.

Focusing on the niche market of low-income users such as students and workers, ITelecom provides a package called “May”, priced at VND77,000 ($3.5) per month, including free in-network and limited off-network communications services, plus three GB internet data daily.

Compared to other operators, the limitation of ITelecom is that it has no network of transaction offices nationwide, instead using distribution channels through general agents and authorized agents.

According to Mr. Luu Anh Son, ITelecom's Deputy General Director, the entry of a virtual mobile network in Vietnam’s mobile market will bring many positive factors, helping existing network providers with infrastructure like Vinaphone reach new heights in development.

In the near future, Dong Duong Telecom will introduce its products and services to workers at industrial zones in nine cities and provinces: Hanoi, Thai Nguyen, Vinh Phuc, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Binh Duong, Ho Chi Minh City, Long An, and Dong Nai. In its second stage, it will connect with all networks with surplus capacity to create convenient services and best connection quality at a reasonable price.

According to data from the Telecommunications Administration, Vietnam has more than 120 million subscribers using mobile services, of which only 50 per cent have registered to use data services. The mobile market has competition between six different suppliers: Vinaphone, Viettel, MobiFone, Vietnammobile, G-Tel, and now ITelecom.

The VMNO made its debut in the UK in 1999 and gradually became popular with more than 400 active suppliers worldwide. By 2015, US technology company Google also provided the FI VMNO mobile network services in the US and other markets.

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