Phone-scarce Vietnam plans $630 mn 3G network
Only one in eight people has a telephone in Vietnam, but that hasn't stopped the country planning a sophisticated third-generation (3G) mobile network.
The communist nation is expected soon to license a $630 million joint venture with Hutchison Telecommunications to offer 3G services, state media said on Monday.
The venture between the unit of Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa and Hanoi Telecom Co would start operating the network in the second quarter, the Tin Tuc (News) daily said.
It said the project had secured initial government approval.
Operators of the new network planned to attract 2.9 million subscribers within 10 years, a report at the weekend quoted Hanoi Telecom director Trinh Minh Chau as saying.
There were no details on whether the network would offer the type of music and video downloads and high-speed Internet services available on established 3G networks in Japan and South Korea and recently launched operations in Europe.
Vietnam had 4.96 million mobile phone subscribers at the end of 2004, a jump of 62 per cent over the previous year. Yet only 12.5 per cent of the 82 million people in the Southeast Asian country have a fixed-line telephone.
Vietnam's top telecoms company, VNPT, plans to have all villages hooked up to its network in 2005, from around 92 per cent in 2004, Pham Long Tran, general director of the state-owned firm, was quoted by the official Vietnam News Agency as saying.