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Viettel aims to be among Top 20 global tech companies

Released at: 20:30, 17/12/2016

Viettel aims to be among Top 20 global tech companies

Photo: Duc Anh

Military-run telecom company to expand operations and break into Top 20 over next decade.

by Do Huong

The military-run Viettel group will move from a telecom service provider and become a technology enterprise, joining the global Top 20 in the process by 2030, the local telecom giant's top leader has said.

“The group will not only provide telecom services and information communications and technology," Viettel Group’s CEO Nguyen Manh Hung announced at Viettel Global’s tenth anniversary on December 17 in Hanoi. "But also participate in researching and producing high technology equipment.”

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told the anniversary ceremony that efficient overseas investment has become a dynamic and vital resource for Viettel’s development and such achievements have inspired and created confidence among Vietnamese enterprises to do likewise. “The fourth industrial revolution will create more opportunities as well as more challenges for Vietnamese enterprises, including Viettel,” he said, but he has faith in the group.

He went on to say that the group should be even more creative and play a key role in encouraging startups in ICT. He also expects it to stake out a presence in ten more international markets with a population totaling in the billions over the next decade.

During the last ten years Viettel was in fourth position in the local telecommunications market, with 2 million subscribers, then decided to head overseas, according to Viettel's reports. It is now found in nine international markets on three continents: Asia, Africa and Latin America.

It was ranked by GSMA Intelligence in the Top 30 largest telecommunications companies globally in terms of mobile phone subscriber numbers. Total subscribers in its nine international markets - Laos, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Cameroon, Haiti, Mozambique, Burundi, Peru and Tanzania - together with Vietnam stands at 100 million.

Viettel group plans to earn $1.5 billion in revenue in its nine international markets this year, in which Laos and Cambodia are its biggest.

Unitel, Viettel’s brand in Laos, has recorded $1 billion in revenue in its seven years of operations and profit of $300 million. It has 2.5 million subscribers, or a 47 per cent market share, and 35 per cent of the broadband market share.

Unitel covers all districts in the country and 95 per cent of its population, with 4,000 base transceiver stations and 23,000 km of fiber optic cable. The company has been providing 4G services since June last year.

It is the most effective telecommunications brand name in ASEAN, according to a report released in April by the UK-based Brand Finance, an independent intangible asset valuation consultancy. Its brand value increased 106 per cent compared to 2015, reaching $132 million, and is No. 1 in the telecom industry in Laos.

In Cambodia, Metfone’s brand value has increased from $85 million in 2015 to $94 million in 2016, according to Brand Finance. It is currently the largest supplier of telecommunications services in the country.

Officially launched in 2009, Metfone’s infrastructure includes 7,000 stations and 20,000 km of fiber optic cable, reaching 97 per cent coverage with 5.5 million subscribers, representing a 37 per cent market share. In 2015 turnover was $256 million.

In Peru, Bitel has made breakthroughs in its business activities. Turnover was $60 million in the first six months of this year, an increase of 105 per cent year-on-year. Growth in subscriber numbers was five-fold the growth of the total for the country’s entire telecommunications industry.

Its turnover from 3G services in the first six months was 4.5 times the figure in the same period of 2015. Bitel plans to provide 4G services by the end of this year and will have 3 million subscribers.

Viettel also staked out a presence in three big markets in Africa - Cameron, Burundi and Tanzania - in 2015 and expected a three-year wait before earning profits. However, since early this year all of the markets have seen positive results. Turnover in Burundi and Tanzania was $16.75 million and $18.26 million, respectively, in the second quarter.

With a population of 50 million, Tanzania, the most populous overseas market Viettel has invested in, has seen strong growth in terms of mobile subscriber numbers. Halotel, its local brand name, covers 95 per cent of the country. Subscriber numbers reached 1 million within three months of launch and 2 million within nine months.

Nexttel, Viettel’s brand in Cameroon, had 2.5 million subscribers in the first six months of this year and revenue reached $35.24 million, up 54 per cent year-on-year. Viettel’s business in Mozambique was stable, with revenue of $33 million in the first half representing an 8 per cent increase from 5.6 million subscribers.

Viettel Global’s turnover was $1.4 billion and its pre-tax profit $58 million in 2015, with 16.5 million subscribers. Viettel plans to develop infrastructure in Myanmar this year, the most populous overseas market it has invested in. Market growth is high and demand for using data is increasing, with 60 per cent of people owning a smartphone.

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