HA NOI - The Ministry of Information and Communications plans to launch 4G - the fourth generation of mobile telecom technology - in Viet Nam in 2015, Deputy Minister Le Nam Thang said.
Speaking at an international conference on 4G LTE in Ha Noi on Thursday, he said the ministry intended to hand out licences for operating 4G services from 2016 after it has assessed market demand, technology, devices and other conditions.
"The 4G LTE [long term evolution] network has been growing fast all over the world. With advantages of providing high-speed internet access services and the popularisation of terminal devices, it can be confirmed that 4G LTE will be a main development trend in the global telecom industry in the coming time," he said.
By the end of last year, more than 300 telecom firms in over 100 countries were providing 4G services, and 61 of them were in Asian countries. In 2014, the world had about 450 million 4G subscribers and the number is expected to nearly double to 830 million by the end of 2015.
The ministry had recently awarded licences to five enterprises for carrying out 4G pilot operations in a year. The firms are FPT Telecom, Viet Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), Viettel, CMC and VTC. Out of these, VNPT and Viettel are said to possess considerable experience in developing mobile networks and a good 3G infrastructure.
Thieu Phuong Nam, general director of Qualcomm Indochina, said Viet Nam and local network operators now had the advantage of deploying 4G, such as available bands provided by the government. Nam said the firms would consider many factors while investing in 4G, such as terminal devices, bands and services for 4G technologies.
"I think it is the right time for Viet Nam to deploy 4G," he said, "The new technologies have brought many opportunities, including the increase of speed and security on mobile devices, new business models for operations and effectiveness in education and health access."
Dae-young Kim, head of Samsung's Professional Service Group, said LTE subscriptions had seen a significant growth, from 200 million in 2013 to 450 million in 2014.
According to Kim, based on the number of global smartphones, LTE was expected to exceed 3G in 2015. Last year, 3G mobile phones accounted for half of the global phone sales, while LTE and 2G sets made up for 43 and 6 per cent, respectively. In 2015, the market share of LTE smartphones is projected to represent 48 per cent, leaving 3G phones behind with 46 per cent. The number of phones with 2G connections purchased this year will remain unchanged.
"Nowadays more people use mobile phones to access data and 4G helps users access data fast and conveniently," he said, adding that LTE was more economical than 3G.
The event, which also welcomed more than 400 experts and managers from government agencies and telecom companies, was organised by the Viet Nam Internet Association and the International Data Group (IDG).