Mobile broadband driving internet growth

Last update 07:10 | 18/11/2017

Vietnam’s fixed line market has seen a significant decline after peaking in 2009, according to Reportbuyer, a leading industry intelligence solution that provides all market research reports from top publishers. Market penetration fell from 20.1 per cent in 2009 to 10.5 per cent in 2012 and 5.7 per cent in 2016.

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Having come late to the internet, meanwhile, Vietnam is finally embracing the higher access speeds offered by 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,” the report stated.

“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 the country, with a market share of over 40 per cent, followed by MobiFone VTNL-Vinaphone and Vietnamobile.

The mobile market has shown moderate growth over the past few years, increasing from mobile penetration of 135 per cent in 2013 to 147 per cent 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 per cent.

The initial roll-out of fixed broadband services in Vietnam was followed by a strong surge in growth, but broadband remained a small but expanding market segment.

It needed a stronger market focus by providers, and this seemed to have finally happened with the arrival of mobile broadband.

As with other developing markets in Asia, there has been a 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 the country over the past five years. Penetration has increased from 14 per cent in 2011 to 31 per cent in 2014 and 43 per cent in 2016. Further strong growth is predicted over the next five years to 2021.

The fixed broadband subscriber market has been growing moderately over the past few years from a relatively small base.

Penetration has increased from 6 per cent in 2013 to 8 per cent in 2015 and 9 per cent in 2016. Fixed broadband penetration is predicted to grow moderately over the next five years, reaching between 14 per cent and 17 per cent 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.

Meanwhile, the digital economy 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 emphasizing 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 digitalization of TV broadcasting.

A strategy plan for conversion to digital TV should see the country’s television stations broadcasting completely digital by 2020.

VN Economic Times

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