02 Dec Vietnam says good morning to 5G | Light Reading
State-owned Viettel, Vietnam’s largest mobile network operator, has launched a 5G commercial trial in parts of Hanoi. During the trial period customers can enjoy unlimited 5G data free of charge.
It’s the first operator in the country to launch 5G. Senior Vietnamese government ministers joined Le Dang Dung, CEO of Viettel Group, in a ceremony to mark the occasion.
Viettel, which claims to be a “pioneer in researching and manufacturing 5G equipment,” said it was using both “imported and self-developed equipment” to roll out a non-standalone version of the next-gen tech.
No mention was made in the official announcement about the identity of the foreign supplier, nor the extent of homegrown infrastructure used in the 5G trial.
Viettel was nonetheless at pains to point out that its 5G network ticked all the right technological boxes, including 64T64R massive MIMO antennas, and that initial tests showed maximum speeds of up to 1.5 Gbit/s.
The operator even went to the bother of name-checking SK Telecom, Verizon and Vodafone as having 5G capabilities similar to its own.
After Hanoi, Viettel said it will continue to expand the 5G network for early commercial testing in Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh.
No indication was given as to when Viettel might finish the trial phase and start charging customers.
Viettel has been talking about building at least part of its 5G network, using its own equipment and software, for some time.
This would not be such a leap into the unknown because Viettel unusually for a telco already sells billing software to other service providers and demonstrated an internally developed 4G core product at the 2019 edition of Mobile World Congress.
In August 2019, it reportedly said its aim was to produce 80% of its core network infrastructure this year.
It’s also a bigger organization than outsiders might assume. According to its own website, it made about $10.1 billion in revenues in 2018 and now serves more than 110 million customers worldwide, following expansion into several markets in Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Its workforce in 2018 included more than 70,000 employees, it says.
Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading