Vietnamese carriers use prices as trump card in race to win 4G subscribers

NDO – Four months after Viettel launched the first 4G services in Vietnam the number of subscribers has risen to an impressive 3.5 million, underlining the great potential of this technology and is therefore easy to understand why all carriers have the price card at the core of their strategies.

Cheaper than 3G

When 4G was still a plan on paper, all of the carriers announced that the costs would be cheaper than 3G and the current prices have been as promised. As the first carrier to commercialise 4G since April this year, Viettel has offered its subscribers a wide choice of 4G plans with varying prices and data limits, such as VND40,000 (US$1.76) for one gigabyte of data or VND70,000 (US$3.08) for 2 gigabytes of data.

Arriving a bit slower to the race but with more ambition, Vinaphone offers even cheaper plans such as VND70,000 for 2.4 gigabytes of data or VND90,000 (US$3.96) for 3.6 gigabytes of data. In order to not to be left behind, Mobifone also offers attractive 4G data plans similar to those of Vinaphone.

Besides the card prices, carriers also make their services more attractive by adding special features to each plan. Vinaphone impresses their customers with cheap prices for extra data, while Mobifone entices users with high-quality 4G-based services, such as movies and music. Viettel also offers a wide range of special 4G data plans for those who spend a lot of time surfing Facebook or watching YouTube videos, with very competitive prices.

The competition between carriers has helped to lower 4G prices, making it easy for users to switch to a different plan that meets their needs. Specifically, 4G prices in Vietnam are relatively cheap, compared with US$5.4 for one gigabyte in Thailand, US$10 in Singapore, US$11 in the UK, US$11.6 in Spain and US$20 in the US.

Continued improvements needed

According to some experts, the 4G prices charged by Vietnamese carriers are reasonable, offering easy access to new services, adding that providers still profit when offering 4G services at lower prices than 3G as the cost of providing one gigabyte of 4G services is lower than 3G.

Although carriers have invested millions of dollars into 4G technologies and hope to entice more users, the figure of 3.5 million 4G subscribers in the past four months, though impressive, remains an early indication to rate whether Vietnamese mobile users have enthusiastically embraced this technology or not.

Vice Chairman of the Digital Communications Society Nguyen Xuan Cuong said the appeal of video applications and social networks, as well as the benefits of IoT devices, will fuel a boom in high-quality digital content over the next few years.

As such, in order to offset the investments of 4G implementation, carriers should accelerate the development of digital content to meet customers’ needs and encourage them to use more data. Carriers must build an ecosystem on their platforms and actively collaborate with digital content creators and app developers to provide cheaper and more attractive services to customers.

According to General Director of Qualcomm Indochina Thieu Phuong Nam, Vietnam currently has sufficient conditions to apply and develop 4G technology faster than other countries as the network covers 95% of the population.

However, in addition to the extensive coverage, users are expecting more breakthroughs in quality. If carriers want to make 4G much better than 3G, there are still many things to be done so that users can see that the voice quality on 4G is superior to the older technologies. Furthermore, carriers must continue investing in 4G infrastructure and optimise their networks to enhance the efficiency and quality of their services.



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