Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Vietnam's 3G licenses open door to foreign phone operators

HANOI, July 7 (Xinhua) -- The race for third-generation (3G) licenses is giving Vietnamese mobile phone operators the chance to cooperate with foreign firms, according to local newspaper Vietnam Investment Review on Monday.

France Telecom and MobiFone, NTT Docomo and Vina Phone, and SingTel and S-Fone are potential duos of partners. "In any cooperation model with a local operator, each foreign operator wants to hold a stake in a local mobile operator through their investment in both cash and technology," said the source from a foreign company.

VinaPhone has revealed its cooperation plan with NTT Docomo, under which the Japanese firm will help the Vietnamese mobile phone operator write its 3G proposal to get one of the four 3G licenses to be granted by the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications.

The ministry plans to send invitation letters for 3G license contest this month and each operator will have two months to finish their proposals.

Vietnam, with a population of some 87 million, had 48 million mobile phone subscribers by early June. Subscription grew 100 percent against the same period last year, much higher than the growth rates in other ASEAN countries, including Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, according to the ministry.

Viettel led Vietnamese mobile phone operators with over 19.4 million subscribers, followed by MobiFone with 13.4 million, VinaPhone 12.1 million and S-Fone more than 3.1 million.