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Mobile Broadband Driving Vietnam’s Internet Growth
After peaking in 2009 Vietnam’s fixed line market in Vietnam has seen a significant decline. Market penetration has fallen from 20.1% in 2009 to 10.5% in 2012 and 5.7% in 2016.
In the meantime, having come late to the internet, Vietnam is finally embracing the higher access speeds offered by the various broadband platforms. Although there has been a surge in subscriber numbers, fixed broadband remains a relatively small but expanding market segment. Most significantly, the arrival of mobile broadband has seen widespread access to faster internet speeds.
Vietnam’s mobile market has grown strongly over the last decade, evidence that the competition model the government has put in place, although with some limitations, has been working. At the same time, demand for new mobile services appeared to have dropped and growth had generally slowed. There has been a gradual shift to value added services, with the arrival of 3G and 3G+ and ahead of the launch of 4G.
The highly competitive nature of Vietnam’s mobile segment is due in no small part to it being opened up to new players, importantly including some with no involvement of the state-owned VNPT. As with most other Asian mobile markets, growth in Vietnam was boosted by the early introduction of prepaid mobile services and prepaid remains a vital component of the business today.
Viettel is the largest mobile operator in Vietnam with over 40% market share, followed by MobiFone VTNL-Vinaphone and Vietnamobile. The Vietnamese mobile market has shown moderate growth over the past few years, increasing from mobile penetration of 135% in 2013 to 147% in 2016. However over the past two years the market has reached a saturation point, as mobile growth slow significantly. Further slow growth is expected to continue over the next five years to 2021. By that time penetration is expected to reach over 150%.
The initial roll-out of fixed broadband services win Vietnam as followed by a strong surge in growth; however, broadband remained a small but expanding market segment. It needed a stronger market focus by the providers; this seemed to have finally happened with the arrival of mobile broadband. As with other developing markets in Asia, there has been major shift in Vietnam’s broadband market with the widespread adoption of mobile broadband, with lower tariffs, ready availability and the convenience of mobility being the big attractions. Mobile broadband has been growing strongly in Vietnam over the past five years. Penetration has increased from 14% in 2011 to 31% in 2014 and 43% in 2016. Further strong growth is predicted over the next five years to 2021.
The fixed broadband subscriber market in Vietnam has been growing moderately over the past few years from a relatively small base. Penetration has increased from 6% in 2013 to 8% in 2015 and 9% in 2016. Fixed broadband penetration is predicted to grow moderately over the next five years, reaching between 14% and 17% by 2021.
Incumbent operator VNPT has been leading Vietnam’s charge into the broadband market. It has doing this largely as part of its Next Generation Network (NGN) development.
In the meantime, the digital economy in Vietnam has been flourishing, although its reach may not be as great as government policy would wish. The government has been the driving force behind the country’s move into the age of the digital economy. It has been constantly emphasising the need to use e-commerce to improve the country’s economic competitiveness. The government has also been particularly active in the development of cyber laws, no doubt because of its deeply ingrained political culture of central control. On another related front, Vietnam is moving quickly towards the digitalisation of TV broadcasting. A strategy plan for conversion to digital TV should see the country’s television stations broadcasting completely digital by 2020.
- Vietnam’s broadband market is growing strongly, on the back of the mobile broadband sector;
- fibre-based broadband subscribers continue to grow strongly.
- The MIC has set 2017 as the target date for introducing Mobile Number Portability (MNP).
- Viettel Telecom announced plans to launch its 4G LTE network.
- Vietnamobile, announced plans to expand the coverage of its 3G network nationwide.
- after a long period of low fixed broadband penetration, the market has started to grow strongly;
- most significantly, fibre-based broadband (FttH) subscribers have been growing rapidly;
- DSL technology continues to support the majority of fixed broadband services;
- the MIC issued a set of digital TV standards ahead of the planned digitalisation.
Companies mentioned in this report:
VNPT; Vinaphone; Mobifone; Viettel; S-Fone; Viettel; Vietnamobile
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