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Viettel Clinches 5G License In First Round Of Vietnam Auction

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By Gigi Onag, Senior Editor, APAC

Viettel Group said it has officially won the first 5G license for the right to use the radio frequency band 2500-2600MHz in Vietnam for the next 15 years, following a spectrum auction held by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) recently.

“The 2,500-2,600 MHz band is of special importance as it is an efficient band for the deployment of both 4G and 5G mobile networks, thereby improving the quality of current 4G services and officially offering 5G services,” the company said in a statement.

Neither Viettel nor the MIC revealed financial details of the winning bid, but it was earlier reported that the government had set a starting price of 3.9 trillion Vietnamese dong (US$158 million) for the 2,500-2,600MHz band.

Quoting MIC’s Vu Thu Hien, the Vietnam News Network (VNN) reported the mid-range band will be the most important waveband in the first stage of 5G deployment in the country for its support of 4G services. As such, he added, 71 per cent of 5G networks globally have been deployed on the mid-range band.

The MIC conducted the second 5G auction for the 3,700-3,800MHz band on Thursday, with the third round for the 3,800-3,900MHz band scheduled for March 19. The starting price of each band is set at VND1.89 trillion (US$76.63 million). A bidder is only allowed to win one band.

Viettel noted the 2,500-2,600MHz band would give it an advantage over the other two bands, as it provides a wider coverage.

“This band also provides an optimal coverage radius 1.3 times greater than the C band (3,500 MHz),” the company said, adding that current 5G devices that the company has researched and produced support the 2,500-2,600MHz band.

The telco operator also said that it plans to launch its national 5G network “in the shortest possible time.”

With only 17 per cent to 20 per cent of devices in the country supporting 5G connectivity, Viettel plans its deployment in areas such as industrial zones, export processing zones and innovation centers, where there is high demand and a high percentage of 5G-compatible devices.

In October, VNMedia reported that the mobile operator who gets the 2,500-2,600MHz spectrum allocation will be required to deploy at least 3,000 5G broadcasting stations using the band within two years after they receive the license. They must also commit to launching commercial 5G services using the band within the first 12 months.

The MIC is determined that commercial 5G services will take off in Vietnam this year. It has set a target to provide 5G coverage to 99 per cent of the population by 2025, at a minimum 100 Mbits/s data speed.

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