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Is Vietnam Really Ready For Commercialisation Of 5G? – Telecoms, Mobile & Cable Communications



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Vietnam has long stated its plan to provide 5G coverage
nationwide by 2030. The ability to offer all citizens high-speed
internet connection at a low cost is a priority of national
significance, according to the Ministry of Information and
Communications (MIC).

Nationwide roll-out of 5G coverage will require a step-by-step
approach. Major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang
have been prioritized to deploy 5G due to their larger need for
high-speed services and denser populations. Industrial areas which
attract foreign investment have also been prioritized to facilitate
the development of smart factories.

Viettel, MobiFone, and VNPT have been trialing 5G services with
their users since November 2020. A recent test, jointly conducted
by Viettel, Ericsson, and Qualcomm at Viettel Innovation Lab,
successfully established 5G data transmission speeds of more than
4.7Gb/s – 40 times faster than 4G and more than twice as fast
as the existing 5G network. Viettel’s tests confirm the
incredible capacity of 5G ultra-short wave technology.

The MIC has been tasked to commercialize 5G in Vietnam. By all
accounts, mobile operators will price services at rates equivalent
to existing 4G services. Users will not be required to change their
SIM cards. Vietnam’s digital economy totaled $14 billion in
2020, and the deployment of 5G is expected to boost this figure
significantly.

Indeed, the overall contribution of 5G to GDP is forecast to
reach 7.34 per cent by 2025. While, perhaps ambitious in terms of
the timeline, Vietnam has high hopes for 5G on its medium-term
horizon. Vietnam did miss its schedule for 5G commercialization in
2021, so, perhaps some caution is warranted on timing.

With a view to accelerating digital transformation, the
government has initiated various programs to boost tourism
management and promotions, infrastructure investment, digitization
of the postal sector, digitization of the logistics sector, and
e-commerce, among others. First and foremost, meeting the
commitments of these government programs is critical to the
development of the sector, and enabling digital transformation on a
meaningful scale.

Cooperation potential

Telecommunication infrastructure, including mobile and fixed
broadband infrastructure, is defined as one pillar of the digital
economy. The development of broadband infrastructure has enabled
the development of all economic sectors. 5G promises to deliver
broadband-level speed, wirelessly, to millions of users where they
access it most–their phones.

Particular interest has been noted in the application of 5G
technology to agriculture and the high-tech industry, including
smart factories and smart cities. The Vietnam Telecommunications
Authority plans to deploy 5G with priority going to industrial and
high-tech parks, as well as high-density urban centres and central
business districts of major cities.

As Vietnam, along with the rest of the world, transitions toward
an increasingly digital economy, data and one’s ability to make
use of it progressively become more crucial.

Improvements to Vietnam’s mobile and fixed broadband
infrastructure will continue to contribute to the country’s
development. Telecom infrastructure is key for the development of
the digital economy. Tech like the Internet of Things (IoT), AI,
big data, network security, digital identity, digital government,
and electronic payment platforms all rely on widespread, fast, and
affordable connectivity.

As technology advances, legal developments often lag. Recent and
impending changes to Vietnam’s data protection law have the
potential to restrict the free flow of data. The implications of
data-intensive technologies powered by 5G are yet to be seen. The
need for a clear and robust legal framework remains and is needed
to bolster investor confidence and drive innovation.

The potential for cooperation between Vietnamese and foreign
businesses is virtually endless. With high capacity and ultra-low
latency, 5G will enable meaningful use of AI-enabled technologies
and IoT applications across a range of use cases and sectors. As
enterprises employ 5G as a means to process and analyze more data,
revenues and valuations are expected to increase, as businesses
become better equipped to monetize huge amounts of data.

Developments in technology powered by 5G will expand the mobile
ecosystem to new industries. The global digital economy is
projected to reach a value of $13.1 trillion by 2035. Much of its
growth will be fueled by 5G connectivity. Precision agriculture,
construction and mining, digitized education, connected healthcare,
smart manufacturing, intelligent retail, and connected smart cities
are areas where development will be catalyzed and enabled by 5G
coverage.

Private 5G networks will revolutionize container ports,
warehousing and logistics, airports, hospitals, hospitality,
manufacturing, farming, and more. 

In the healthcare context, for example, doctors and patients
will be more connected than ever. Wearable devices will alert
providers when a patient is experiencing symptoms. For example, an
internal defibrillator could automatically alert emergency room
cardiologists of a patient experiencing symptoms, allowing
physicians to prepare for the incoming patient-complete with a full
record of data collected by the device, in real-time.

Superior communication

Data has been likened to the oil of the future. Data will fuel
the growth of most sectors, and, again, agriculture is at the
forefront. Farms will increasingly consume more data while relying
on fewer chemicals. Sensors installed directly in fields, allow
farmers to identify, with incredible precision, which areas require
additional water, pest management, or show signs of invasive
disease.

As economies of scale and manufacturing efficiencies make
wearable technology more affordable, 5G will enable networks with
large numbers of IoT devices. For example, farmers can use health
monitoring devices for livestock, gaining much more accurate and
timely health data. This can allow a significant reduction in the
use of antibiotics, without risking the safety of food supply
chains.

In the context of manufacturing, the convergence of AI and IoT
powered by 5G will result in major transformations to factory
floors. Predictive maintenance will help minimize downtime and
reduce costs. Factories will also utilize 5G to analyze and control
industrial processes with an exceptional degree of precision, not
possible prior to 5G. Traditional quality control processes will be
streamlined via sensor technology and AI – all made possible
thanks to the vast improvements in connectivity offered by 5G.

In logistics and shipping, 5G will allow greater communication
between vehicles of a fleet. Vehicles can also communicate with
infrastructure along the route. Navigation and monitoring of
vehicles will improve with 5G, resulting in better route planning,
shorter delivery times, and fewer instances of driver error and
accidents. Augmented reality systems used to identify potential
hazards, without diverting a driver’s attention away from the
road, could be employed and powered by 5G.

There are some lessons from other countries Vietnam should learn
about to quicken the commercialization of 5G. In China, for
instance, China Mobile has served around one billion people through
approximately 700,000 base stations. In turn, China Mobile reported
a 13 per cent increase in revenue from 2020 to 2021. The business
model is sound: a 4G data plan costs around $25 for 20GB of data,
while the 5G plan is about $29 for 40GB of data.

The incentive structure is clear – consumers pay around 40 per
cent less per GB of data under the 5G plan. From the operator’s
perspective, average revenues per user have increased by around 20
per cent. So, for telecom operators, the lesson is, that if we
follow China’s example, 5G enables viable channels to drive
revenue growth.

In Thailand, Siriraj Hospital uses 5G to enable Thailand’s
transition to a smart healthcare system. Together with 5G
infrastructure vendor Huawei, the hospital is testing more than 50
applications for 5G within healthcare. For example, 5G-powered
robotic guided vehicles enable contactless delivery of medication
to patients.

In addition to deployments in the healthcare sector,
manufacturing plants and logistics hubs are ripe for the deployment
of private 5G networks.

Looking ahead, trends like the metaverse will likely accelerate
the transition toward mass 5G adoption as the amounts of data
transmitted increase, requiring lower latencies, higher bandwidths,
and more reliable network connections.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.



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