Wednesday, 18 May 2022

EE Combines More 4G and 5G Spectrum for Even Higher Data Rates

You may be aware that the most common flavour of 5G in use today is known as 5G Non-Standalone (NSA). This allows the operator to combine 4G and 5G spectrum to achieve higher data rates. EE is one such operator in the UK. 

In a recent announcement, EE said that it has become the first European network to successfully aggregate a 5G signal using seven different spectrum carriers, including its existing 3.4GHz and new 3.6GHz 5G channels. The press release said:

This breakthrough will deliver new benefits for EE customers, with 5G data speeds topping 2.2Gbps in lab testing and expected real-world speeds of over 1.7Gbps on the network. The innovation means a major boost in 5G network capacity, using a total of 170 MHz of Bandwidth, and could deliver the fastest available 5G in some areas of the UK.

Working in collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies at BT’s Borehamwood lab, the EE network can now deliver a 5G signal using seven radio carriers, including some spectrum EE acquired in Ofcom’s spectrum auction last year. Using five 4G (LTE) carriers and two 5G (New Radio), it is the first time any European network has achieved this feat. A mobile test device featuring the Snapdragon® 8 Gen 1 Mobile Platform with Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System was used to achieve the milestone.

While the press release doesn't detail the exact spectrum quantity in each spectrum, it specifies:

5 x LTE carriers = 1.8GHz (2 carriers), 2.1GHz (1 carrier) and 2.6GHz (2 carriers)

2 x NR carriers = 3.4GHz and 3.6GHz

Based on the spectrum holding, it can be assumed that 2x20 MHz was used in 1.8 and 2.6 GHz and 10 MHz in 2.1 GHz band was used. All these 5 carriers were carrier aggregated in LTE. 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz and 3.6 GHz was carrier aggregated in 5G. These were both used with dual connectivity to achieve the data rates specified above.

BT / EE has many firsts in the UK to their name so it's no surprise that their users will be able to enjoy top speeds going further. One final note is to point out that for the consumer segment, BT will use the EE brand as can be seen in the Tweet below.

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Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Algeria to Launch 5G but Prioritise 4G Infrastructure Upgrades

Algeria has a well developing telecom infrastructure with growth encouraged by sympathetic government policies and regulations aimed at delivering serviceable internet connections across the country. However fixed internet speeds remain slow, and the country ranks poorly in international tables. Some efforts are ongoing to address this, with the government having pressed Alg茅rie T茅l茅com in early 2021 to increase the minimum rate available from 4Mb/s to 10Mb/s.

Mobile broadband is largely based on 3G and LTE, and the data rates are also low in global terms. Although LTE is available in all provinces, much investment is required from the MNOs to improve the quality of service. The government is encouraging the MNOs to undertake upgrades to LTE infrastructure before investing in commercial 5G services.

Intensifying price competition between the three MNOs: Djezzy, Mobilis and Ooredoo Algeria – together with increases in taxes on voice and data services, have had a negative effect on operator revenue. The difficult operating climate encouraged VEON to sell its entire share in Djezzy in mid-2021, allowing it to focus on its more profitable markets.

Djezzy is the brand under which Optimum T茅l茅com is marketing its mobile offer. 

Djezzy broadcasts 2G on 900 MHz and 3G up to HSPA+ on 2100 MHz in 48 Wilayas. 4G/LTE was launched in 2016 on 1800 MHz (band 3) and is available in most Wilayahs. Djezzy is the most popular brand amongst young people with the most aggressive marketing and generally on par with Mobilis.

Coverage in cities is good, while outdoors on 4G/LTE, but often falls back to 3G indoors. Rural coverarge ranges from 3G to sometimes EDGE or no service. Speeds on 4G/LTE ranges between 10 and 20 Mbps to occasionally poor or trouble connecting to some websites. Overall, connectivity is fairly reliable, though.

Mobilis is the brand under which the mobile subsidiary of state-owned Alg茅rie T茅l茅com is marketing its mobile offers. Based on the number of subscribers it's currently the market leader in the country and was launched in 2003.

Mobilis has been offering 3G connection in basically 80% of all the cities and towns since 2012. 4G/LTE was launched in October 2016 on 1800 MHz (band 3). 4G/LTE is available in the Wilayas of Tlemcen, Constantine, Batna, Bordj Bou Arreridj, El Oued, Biskra, Boumerd猫s, Tipaza, Blida, Tizi-Ouzou et Sidi Bel-Abb猫s. 

The third operator in number of users in Algeria is Ooredoo and used to be called Nedjma before. It's now owned by an international telco based in Doha, Qatar.

Just like the other Algerian operators they operate 2G on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz and since end of 2016 on 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz (band 3) as well. Ooredoo covers with 3G most populated areas in Algeria and 28 out of 48 Wilayahs are covered with 4G so far.

Algeria’s telecoms regulator has issued additional spectrum in the 900MHz band to the country’s three mobile operators. ARPCE (Authority for Regulation of Post and Electronic Communications / Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Communications Electroniques) granted spectrum in the E-GSM band (880MHz-890MHz/925MHz-935MHz) to Djezzy, Mobilis and Ooredoo.

In a statement, the regulator said that the spectrum was to be used for “improving the quality of service of mobile telephony networks”, and noted that it would “continue its efforts in the planning and assignment of frequencies, in order to offer the best quality of service to users.”

The Algerian government said earlier this year they aim to ensure the launch of 5G mobile networks ‘soon’ and is currently working on freeing up and optimising the requisite radio frequency spectrum. Telecoms minister Karim Bibi Triki announced that the 5G initiative – forming part of efforts to meet growing demand for broadband connectivity – was not previously prioritised by the government due to more pressing needs to improve poor 4G coverage and service quality in some parts of Algeria, but he indicated that the telecoms sector could now be aiming for a commercial 5G launch by the end of 2022.

Since 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic influenced all Algerian operators to bolster their networks to cope with greater internet traffic demands, leading to ‘5G-ready’ technology deployments, with state-backed operator Mobilis having begun 5G testing and rollout of 5G-ready infrastructure in partnership with Huawei, whilst rival operators Djezzy and Ooredoo have formed respective next-generation technology partnerships with Nokia and Ericsson. Furthermore, high speed fibre-optic backbone expansions in the country will help support the introduction of fifth-generation mobile services, with an existing 200,000km of state-owned fibre cable alone. During 2021 Algerian operators requested that the government clarify its 5G strategy to allow them to plan their future investments.

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Monday, 2 May 2022

Swisscom Outlines Challenges and Plan to Transition to a Software Company

In a recent keynote at Mobile Europe's Telco to Techco, Christoph Aeschlimann, CTO & CIO, Swisscom gave a presentation on 'Redefining telco for the digital age'. During the presentation he highlighted the challenges of being a 170 year old operator, from infrastructure to processes and mindset.

To overcome these challenges, Christoph believes that a three pronged approach will be needed as highlighted in the image below:

  1. Disaggregation of Hardware and Software
  2. Telcos need to be become software companies
  3. AI and automation to create new opportunities

The current CEO of Swisscom, Urs Schaeppi, is stepping down from his role as a CEO and the Board of Directors has elected Christoph Aeschlimann as the new CEO of Swisscom. This will allow him to implement his vision of transitioning to a software company where many of the tools will be developed in house.

The presentation below is definitely worth listening to, along with the interesting Q&A at the end. Kudos to him for tackling all difficult questions on how they plan to transition to a software company going forward and how they will operate.

Interested in knowing your thoughts.

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Wednesday, 13 April 2022

4G and 5G to Power Kenya's Broadband Ambitions

Kenya’s telecom market continues to undergo considerable changes in the wake of increased competition, improved international connectivity, and rapid developments in the mobile market. The country is directly connected to a number of submarine cables, and with Mombasa as a landing point for LIT’s newly completed East and West Africa terrestrial network, the country serves as a key junction for onward connectivity to the Arabian states and the Far East. The additional internet capacity has meant that the cost of internet access has fallen dramatically in recent years, allowing services to be affordable to a far greater proportion of the population. In parallel, the sector’s regulator has reduced interconnection tariffs and implemented a range of measures aimed at developing further competition.

Numerous competitors are rolling out national and metropolitan backbone networks and wireless access networks to deliver services to population centres across the country. Several fibre infrastructure sharing agreements have been forged, and as a result the number of fibre broadband connections has increased sharply in recent years.

Much of the progress in the broadband segment is due to the government’s revised national broadband strategy, which has been updated with goals through to 2030, and which are largely dependent on mobile broadband platforms based on LTE and 5G.

Kenya has currently has four network operators: Safaricom, Airtel, Telkom and Faiba 4G.

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz and 3G on 2100 MHz on all three providers. 4G/LTE has started in 2014 with Safaricom on 800 (B20) and 1800 MHz (B3) and has started with Airtel on 800 MHz (B20).In 2017 Faiba launched its 4G-only network in a very limited area of the country. 

Coverage is pretty good, except for the very remote areas in the north, but mobile towers are sometimes overload, which leads to slow speeds. But the mobile network is rapidly being expanded.

Safaricom has been ranked as having the best network in Kenya – for data and calls – after independent network tests from global company Umlaut.

Umlaut's mobile benchmarking unit analyzed the mobile networks of Kenya to rank their performance. It measured smartphone voice and data performance based on extensive "drive tests" – from major metropolitan areas to smaller cities and connection roads, which it did between September 24, 2020, and October 26, 2020.

Umlaut found Safaricom to be the only mobile operator to deploy voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services across the country including in rural areas, therefore contributing to the operator achieving the best call set-up time. In the tests, Safaricom achieved average download speeds up to 58.5 Mbit/s and average upload speeds up to 36.4 Mbit/s.

Safaricom said in a statement that its top performance in mobile data was due to its deployment of 4G carrier aggregation, which made it the only operator to exceed 20MHz in data upload tests.

"4G Carrier Aggregation enables Safaricom to combine its 4G bandwidth on both the 1800 and 800 frequency bands. In turn, this means Safaricom's 4G customers can establish more than one simultaneous connection to network masts thus achieving more than 150% the speeds of a typical 4G connection," 

The mobile operator has been aggressively expanding its 4G coverage with a goal of having 100% of its network on 4G. Safaricom is also by far the biggest operator in Kenya with over 35.6 million customers and about 65% market share at the end of 2020, according to statistics from market research company Omdia.

Safaricom announced the launch of 5G trials in March 2021 for both individual and enterprise customers in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega. As part of the trials, the operator plans to expand the number of 5G sites to more than 150 across nine towns over the next twelve months. The primary objective during the trial period will be to establish if customers can access speeds of up to 700Mbps, with plans to offer speeds of up to 1Gbps in coming months. Nokia and Huawei have been chosen as the two technology partners to implement the rollout of Safaricom’s 5G network.

Safaricom has also signed a multi-year contract with satellite provider Intelsat to modernise its network and expand LTE coverage. Under the deal, Intelsat will provide cellular backhaul and satellite and enterprise connectivity services.

Airtel, owned by Indian Bharti Airtel is the second provider in the country. In 2017 Airtel is set to begin trialling a 4G/LTE network in the capital Nairobi and will be expanded to 45 other sites in major towns, including Mombasa and Kisumu within the year. In 2018 it bought their license on band 20 (800 MHz) and in May Airtel announced the commercial launch of 4G/LTE services.

Airtel Kenya has recently received a ten-year frequency licence comprising 2×10MHz of spectrum in the 2100MHz band. Airtel agreed to pay USD10 million for the licence, which will be valid until 2032. In respect of settlements regarding its 2015-2025 operating and spectrum licence, Airtel will pay a total of USD20 million in four instalments over the next three years.

Established as a telecommunications operator in April 1999, Telkom is 60 per cent owned by Helios Investment Partners, with the remaining stake held by Kenyans through the Government of Kenya. Telkom has 4,152 km of its own terrestrial fibre cabling, serving as a key conduit for broadband connectivity, inland. Telkom Kenya also owns a 22.5% stake in TEAMS, a 5,000km undersea fibre optic cable through Fujairah, UAE, and a 10% stake in LION2, another 2,700km undersea fibre optic cable through Mauritius. It also owns a stake in the East African Submarine System Cable (EASSy) and manages the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI), on behalf of the Ministry of ICT, an inland fibre optic cable network running through Kenyan counties. 

Telkom Kenya has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ericsson and systems integrator NEC XON to deploy an additional 2,000 4G LTE base stations across the country by 2023. In a press release, Telkom Kenya confirmed the USD100 million modernisation project will deliver a four-fold increase in its 4G mobile footprint, reaching ‘the majority of citizens across Kenya’. In so doing, the company hopes to deliver improved service availability as it looks to bridge the digital divide and provide Kenyans with an enhanced customer experience. The nationwide rollout is part of Telkom’s long-term network expansion strategy, announced in August 2020, when it underwent a strategic reorganisation.

Faiba 4G by triple-play provider Jamii Telecommunications Ltd. (JTL) started in December 2017 in a very limited area a 4G-only network on 700 MHz (Band 28). There is no fallback to 2G or 3G and all voice services are provided through VoLTE.

At launch, Faiba boasts of 300 base stations with a target of achieving 1000 stations by 2020. JTL says that Faiba customers can achieve up to 72 Mbps speeds. Faiba is so far available in the following areas: Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Thika.

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Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Telefonica's Vision of Open RAN from MWC 2022

Open RAN is very much work in progress at Telefonica with initial phases about to reach completion and massive deployments about to start. Maite Aparicio is Head of Open RAN and Global CTIO at Telef贸nica. She leads a team that drives the development of the Open RAN solution for Telefonica with the objective of ensuring that this Open RAN solution fulfils the technical and economic requirements.

At MWC, she gave a talk on Open RAN on their booth. The session covered Open RAN plans and an overview of the main technology elements that Telef贸nica is developing in collaboration with selected partners of the Open RAN ecosystem. 

The presentation highlighted that Telefonica expects Open RAN to play a big role in their network going forward. From their point of view, Open RAN enables new use cases, and allows new business opportunities. The removal of dependency on vendors is an added bonus. There is still work that needs to be done, as can be seen in the slide above.

The fact that Telefonica has been one of the leaders in the field has provided them with valuable insights on the challenges and concerns that must be solved before the massive adoption of Open RAN

Even though Open RAN vendors have been continuously improving their products and reaching a parity with traditional vendors, there is still room for improvement based on the learnings. 

The video of the presentation is shared below. In this Telefonica shared the main lessons learned from the initial Open RAN pilots and how they plan to progress with Open RAN going forward.

The slides are available here.

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Tuesday, 29 March 2022

3G and 4G form the Backbone for Oman's 5G and Mobile Internet Growth

For many years Oman’s mobile market was a duopoly between the incumbent telco Omantel and its challenger Ooredoo Oman. In February 2021, Vodafone Group and Oman Future Telecommunications consortium secured a license to operate the Sultanate’s third network, with services being under the Vodafone Oman brand. 

Oman has a modern mobile sector which comprises substantial coverage of both 3G and LTE networks. In February 2021 Omantel launched commercial 5G services, while Ooredoo Group has a five-year framework agreement with Ericsson to develop its 5G platform across the Group’s ten markets, including Oman. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a spike in mobile data traffic, which prompted Omantel to upgrade a number of sites from 3G to LTE, as well as build a number of additional 5G sites.

While Oman’s fixed broadband infrastructure penetration is considered low, it is being improved with the building of fibre-based networks as part of Oman’s Vision 2040 program.

Oman has also established itself as an important communications hub in the Middle East, with access to numerous submarine cables including the 2Africa submarine cable, which should become available during 2023-2024. The 9,800km Oman Australia Cable running from Muscat to Perth, with the potential for a branch line to Djibouti, is making progress and is expected to be completed in December 2021. This additional infrastructure will provide considerable additional bandwidth.

Regarding bands: 2G/GSM is on 900 MHz, 3G/UMTS on 900 and 2100 MHz. 4G/LTE started in 2013 on 1800 MHz (B3) on Omantel and Ooredoo and is available on prepaid. Ooredoo added 800 MHz for FD-LTE (B20) and Omantel started TD-LTE on 2300 MHz (B40) too.

According to the recent Open Signal report (which only surveyed Ooredoo and Omantel), these two operators were joint winners in four out of seven categories due to statistical ties. Of the two, Ooredoo has the most outright wins, being the sole winner of both the Games Experience and 4G Availability awards, while Omantel is the outright winner of the Download Speed Experience award.

Omantel is the Sultanate’s incumbent telecoms operator and primary provider of internet in the country on landline and ADSL. It's mostly state-owned and market leader in mobile networks too. In 2018 it reached 56% of the market. It has the best coverage and speeds and most customers. It's mobile branch is also known as Oman Mobile. Its 4G/LTE reaches most populated areas.

In June 2021 Omantel and Ericsson announced the completion of a 5G millimetre wave (mmWave) proof of concept (PoC) trial that will enable the Omani operator to meet the increasing demand for high-quality connectivity as well as facilitate new use cases. When rolled out, 5G mmWave will greatly enhance the user experience at mobile broadband hotspots and home broadband (fixed wireless access [FWA]), as well as enable low-latency industry applications like Augmented Reality (AR). The trial delivered multi-gigabit speeds with eight cell carrier aggregation functionalities using Ericsson’s Streetmacro 6701 mmWave solution and advanced 5G software features. The trial used a carrier bandwidth of 800MHz at 26GHz, with 5G in Non-Standalone (NSA) mode of operation.

Omantel has also formed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the South Korean operator LG Uplus to expand its 5G offerings using edge technology. Included within the scope of the MoU is Augmented reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Multiview, Timeslice solution and any potential business cooperation opportunities on XR platforms.

Ooredeoo is the 2nd provider in the country still giving good coverage in 3G and 4G: 3G 4G coverage maps. 3G covers 90% of the population and has reached 96% coverage of the Sultanate’s population with its ‘SuperNet’ 4G/LTE mobile network in 2019.

Ooredoo from Qatar has acquired the majority of the operator which was called Nawras before and renamed it to Ooredoo in 2014. It's the no.2 slightly behind Omantel at 46% share of the market in 2018. Generally Ooredoo has lower prices than Omantel at a slightly lower coverage.

In June 2021 Nokia and Ooredoo announced the introduction of super-fast and reliable 4G and 5G fixed wireless (FWA) access throughout Oman. Work to deploy the Nokia FastMile 4G FWA solution throughout the country commenced in February 2021. The scope of work initially saw 15,000 homes and businesses connected. In addition, 3,000 homes in city centers will soon get Nokia FastMile 5G FWA.

Vodafone has become the third operator in the sultanate. Vodafone Oman launched in January 2022. Their plans include bringing a next-generation 5G network and cloud services to Oman and then, its spokesperson said, moving into ecosystems that reach far beyond telecommunications.

Local reports suggest that the government initiated the bid for a new mobile operator to improve communication services, generate fresh job opportunities for Omanis, and enhance the country’s GDP. It’s not too surprising therefore that Vodafone Oman is highlighting a focus on employing Omanis and a local partnership ecosystem across key sectors. Vodafone will provide services through 3,500 authorized distributors and a comprehensive network. 

The entry of a new player could also usher in some price competition, potentially benefiting consumers in a market where, according to some reports, internet access is seen as being high compared to other countries in the region. The country, whose population is around five million, is said to have nearly 1.2 million postpaid and 4.7 million prepaid mobile subscribers.

Vodafone received the licence to operate in Oman in 2019. Formal approval of Vodafone as the third operator was given a year ago.

Vodafone Oman also recently signed an agreement with Ericsson to deploy, operate and maintain a new 4G and 5G core and radio access (RAN) greenfield network.

Ericsson will supply a complete core network solution based on Ericsson Cloud Core, NFVI and Cloud VoLTE as well as an end-to-end transport network solution. The greenfield network includes other Ericsson Radio System products and solutions such as the antenna-integrated radio and Ericsson Spectrum Sharing. The end-to-end solution range will deliver a cost-efficient, energy-efficient, and flexible layered architecture design to support 5G from network launch. Vodafone customers will also benefit from Ericsson Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services.

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Thursday, 24 March 2022

3G and 4G continues to play an Important role for consumers as Vietnam starts focusing on 6G

Despite the pandemic-related mobility restrictions, Vietnam’s economy has continued to outperform the rest of the region in 2020 and 2021. Nevertheless, the telecom sector essentially spent most of this period in a holding pattern, focusing on maintaining service throughout the crisis while preparing for some major changes to come in the mobile market in 2022.

Both fixed-line telephony and mobile have experienced small drops in subscriber numbers since the start of the pandemic, but the similarities between the two markets end there. Fixed-line tele-density continued its downwards trajectory towards virtual oblivion, with just 3% penetration (around 3 million subscribers) at the start of 2021. The mobile market has lost about the same number of subscribers since the end of 2019, but has been sitting on much higher penetration levels around 130% for many years. Growth is expected to kick in again in 2022 following the anticipated launch of commercial 5G mobile services along with a range of government-led schemes to move consumers completely off 2G and 3G.

One example is the planned redistribution of GSM/3G bandwidth to LTE. In addition to propelling Vietnam into having one of the most advanced mobile markets in the world, this should also spur on the mobile broadband segment. With a penetration level of just over 70%, mobile broadband has considerable room to grow. Increasing economic prosperity coupled with the latest smartphone technology and networks should see mobile broadband underwriting the country’s telecommunications sector for at least the next few years.

Vietnam has a large percentage of broadband Internet subscribers, with rates among the lowest in the world. According to the Department of Telecommunications, under the Ministry of Information and Communications, as of October 2021, Vietnam had more than 18.8 million fixed broadband Internet subscribers. Around the same time, Vietnam had 71 million mobile broadband subscribers, with 89.81% prepaid and 10.19% post paid. In 2021, 4G subscribers accounted for 89.42% of total subscribers, 3G subscribers with 10.05%, and 5G subscribers 0.54%. The Internet infrastructure in the country is set to receive considerable investment in 2022 to meet users’ growing demands. Additionally, the government plans to focus on upgrading bandwidth and modem devices’ capacity, widening domestic and international bandwidth, and amending Internet standards.

There are 4 major GSM network operators in Vietnam: Viettel, Vinaphone, Mobifone and Vietnamobile.

Coverage and speeds are quite good for SE Asian standards: 2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz. Viettel and Vinaphone introduced DC-HSPA in 2014, 4G/LTE is just being launched on 1800 and 2600 MHz (bands 3 and 7) after Viettel, Vinaphone, Mobifone and Gmobile received licenses in 2016, Vietnamobile in 2017. The three state-owned operators aim to increase 4G/LTE coverage to 95% each in 2019.Vietnam is planning to switch off all its 2G networks by 2022.

Vietnam was expected to launch commercial 5G services by 2020, but due to the pandemic, there were multiple delays, and the rollout time-stretched has stretched till 2022. A thing worth noting here is that the telecom operators in Vietnam have agreed to share 5G infrastructure with each other. This will help the telcos in streamlining their capital investments related to 5G.

According to OpenSignal report in 2021 Viettel Mobile remains the dominant operator when it comes to Vietnam’s mobile network experience. Viettel Mobile successfully holds on to six outright wins, while MobiFone remains the sole winner of the Upload Speed Experience award.

Viettel is owned by the Ministry of Defense and thus the Vietnamese army. In 2020, Viettel held a market share of approximately 52.5 percent among all terrestrial mobile-cellular service providers in Vietnam, making it the leading provider of this service.

Samsung Electronics and Viettel have started 5G commercial trials in Da Nang, the largest city in the Central Vietnam region. In the trial, Viettel is using Samsung’s advanced 5G solutions to power its commercial network and to enable users in Da Nang to experience the full benefits of 5G services. 

The main mission of the 5G commercial trials is to build a digitalised society – Viettel has built 4G telecommunications infrastructure covering 97% of the Vietnamese population. The company also pioneers in providing the first 5G service in Vietnam. Up to now, 11 provinces/cities of Vietnam have 5G Viettel coverage (including Hanoi, Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Vinh Phuc, Dong Nai, Ho Chi Minh City, Ba Ria–Vung Tau, Binh Phuoc, Thua Thien–Hue and Da Nang). People in these areas can experience 5G for free with unlimited capacity, on many 5G support devices. The 5G Viettel network in the above areas has a stable data download speed of 600-700 Mbps, the highest of up to more than 1Gbps.

The Viettel has reached speeds of over 4.7 Gbps over a 5G network it researched, tested, and established. According to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC):
"This speed is 40 times higher than the 4G speed and more than two times the existing 5G speed, making Viettel one of the fastest 5G telecom networks in Asia,"
The telecommunications company headquartered in Hanoi used 5G ultra-short wave (mmWave) technology, and, together with Ericsson and Qualcomm, advanced E-Utra New Radio Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) technology to increase speed and extend 5G coverage.

Vinaphone is the second operator in Vietnam. It's owned by the government through the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group. It gives a good coverage and speed throughout the country. 4G/LTE has been started on Phu Quoc island in 2016 and is now rolled out nationwide.

The operator has signed an agreement with Finnish vendor Nokia  to improve its digital infrastructure. Under the partnership, the pair agreed to strengthen strategic cooperation to upgrade the capacity of VNPT’s backbone and core networks, develop 4G, 5G and IoT platforms, continue the commercial testing of 5G services, and cooperate in developing and applying new networking technology. 

Vinaphone also announced the pilot launch of a mobile money service across the country last year. The operator received one of the nation’s first trial mobile money licences from the State Bank of Vietnam on 18 November, alongside mobile operator MobiFone. The new service will enable customers of VNPT’s mobile unit VNPT-Vinaphone to deposit, withdraw and transfer money, as well as pay for goods and services.

Mobifone is the 3rd provider in the country and has become the first Vietnamese operator to be permitted to provide mobile money services in the country. MobiFone will provide mobile money services via a network of 600 transaction points. It aims to expand the service coverage to more than 10,000 transaction points via its partners and dealers. However, there is definitely demand for such services. There are nearly 125 million mobile phone subscribers in the country, but only 64 percent of adults have bank accounts. MobiFone’s service is expected to make e-payment more widely accessible, especially to people in rural, mountainous and remote areas.

Mobifone completed tests on a pilot 5G network in four cities, making it the second mobile player in the country prepared to launch commercial service.

In a statement the operator said it spent nearly a year deploying and evaluating the performance of 5G base stations in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Hai Phong. It didn’t give a timeframe for when commercial service would begin. The testing showed the network was capable of delivering download data rates of about 2Gb/s, it said, noting it worked with major 5G equipment providers to assess the responsiveness and service quality of the pilot network.

Vietnamobile is the smallest of the 4 providers and the only one that is privately owned. It gives out the best prices in Vietnam and has a market share of around 10%.

In 2011 they started with 3G services in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Hanoi, but since then 3G coverage has been expanded to Ba Ria-Vung Tau, An Giang, Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan, Dong Thap, Long An, Dong Nai, Thai Nguyen and Binh Duong. In 2017 it covers 90% of the population in all 63 cities and provinces by 3G, but coverage is still lower as on the state-owned providers. They have been awarded a 4G/LTE license, but it's still much more restricted than on the state-owned providers.

Vietnam announced that this year, it plans to focus on 6G, the sixth-generation standard currently under development for wireless communications technologies. The government has set up a steering committee on 6G technology. It is responsible for putting forward orientations, mechanisms, and policies to bolster 6G research and development in the country.

The committee will monitor the 6G equipment and service standards, production, and commercialisation from international organisations around the world. It will combine research and forecast development trends from domestic and international telecommunications markets.  The committee will also devise a roadmap to study, manufacture, and commercialise 6G equipment as well as a roadmap for testing and commercialising 6G services. It will come up with solutions to support Vietnamese enterprises with the technology. Experts believe that 6G networks will transform the country. While the speed of 5G may reach 20 gigabits (Gbps) per second, a 6G network may achieve terabits-per-second speeds. Nations around the world, including the US, South Korea, China, Japan, and Finland have already joined the race for 6G network development.

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