Vietnam's 5G network is forecast to have a bright future with government and regulator support while domestic manufacturing of 5G handsets could lower device costs and lend tailwinds to adoption.
Analysts from credit intelligence provider Fitch Solutions Inc said 5G appears to be high on the government’s priority list, with the earliest services set to be commercialised in mid-2020 following trials conducted through last year.
“We believe the impact will be greatest in the enterprise segment, particularly in Vietnam’s rapidly growing manufacturing sector, with government initiatives supporting industry uptake.
“At the consumer level, we expect early launches to centre on larger, higher-income cities, with operators likely to focus on both mobile and fixed-wireless services,” said the analysts.
While fibre-based broadband connections in Vietnam have grown significantly in recent quarters, Fitch believed that fixed-wireless 5G could still serve as a complement to existing fixed services and support the development and adoption of higher bandwidth services, such as virtual reality (VR) video streaming and cloud gaming applications.
The analysts said: “We anticipate a potential delay to 5G launches as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced operators to increase investments into their existing 4G networks and raise bandwidth on existing fixed broadband connections.
“Reportedly, [Vietnam’s largest mobile carrier] Viettel had to double bandwidth for all fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) subscribers and, together with other state-owned operators VNPT-Vinaphone and Mobifone, introduce bigger mobile data allocations.”
While these short term moves could put investments into 5G networks on the backburner, they said, the government could pressure the state-owned operators to focus on 5G deployment.
Licences and spectrum are yet to be allocated, although the Ministry of Information and Communications could convert 5G trial licences, allocated in 2019, into commercial licences, they said.
Through Resolution 52, introduced in September, the government aims to actively involve itself in the wider adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies to drive the country’s economic growth.
“We expect the government to lend support to the wider 5G ecosystem through the creation of test beds, or through enterprise grants to adopt 5G technologies,” said Fitch.
The ministry is already looking at licensing certain frequencies to domestic manufacturers of 5G products, and has stated that it will support the development of 5G-capable chips, although further details have not been disclosed.
Viettel has 5G partnerships with Ericsson and Nokia, while Mobifone has an agreement with Samsung. VNPT-Vinaphone is working with Nokia.
Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup signed an agreement with Fujitsu and Qualcomm in June last year to jointly develop and manufacture 5G-compatible handsets in Vietnam.
The Fitch analysts said the wider availability of low-cost 5G devices in Vietnam will support uptake, primarily among cost-conscious consumers.
“In terms of industry applications, we expect to see strong use of 5G in the manufacturing sector. Adoption of 5G-enabled sensors across the production line is a certainty, although this will centre most largely on the use of private networks in the short run, such as those developed by private players like Sigfox.
“Operators have made no indication of their 5G plans for the enterprise and industrial sectors, although we expect them to look at developing 5G networks in key economic zones and industrial areas,” they said.
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK