Fifth-generation mobile network technology has become a firm foundation for the ASEAN’s ongoing digital transformation in which Vietnam is among the most active participants.
Homemade tech makes Vietnam top contestant in 5G. illustration photo
Local network operator Viettel has the largest market share in Vietnam and is urgently making its last preparations before commercialising the 5G standard next month, looking forward to reaching the world one year later in June 2021.
“The 5G standard determines the success of the digital society. All countries will use 5G to prove their scientific and technological development. So, 5G is the most strategic project of Viettel,” Le Dang Dung, the group’s general director, said.
Eight months after Viettel’s first 5G call with imported equipment, the group successfully carried out another call by using its own 5G equipment which had been developed within only six months. Viettel became the world’s sixth provider of 5G equipment, after Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and ZTE, among whom only Viettel is both a telecommunication network operator and an equipment producer.
With its self-designed and produced 5G equipment, Viettel quickly tested this new generation technology in large cities and even in the neighbouring countries of Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia last summer.
Along with Viettel, two other mobile network providers – MobiFone and Vinaphone – have also successfully tested 5G in big cities and are planning to produce 5G equipment, including small cell ones, to serve the demand of factories, households, and exporters in the country, aiming to realise the country’s plan of commercialising 5G this year with Vietnamese equipment.
Vietnam has a unique, independent 5G strategy compared to the rest of the ASEAN. According to Nikkei Asia Review, while other ASEAN members depend on overseas technology or co-operation, Vietnam has developed its own capabilities.
The news agency also noted that Thailand is leading the ASEAN in 5G rollout. Accordingly, the country’s leading two mobile operators AIS and True Corp. are racing to provide 5G infrastructure and robots to dozens of hospitals nationwide to help medical teams fight against the pandemic.
The robots operate on 5G infrastructure and “are very useful, particularly at a time when we are short of protective gear and equipment. Even though we lack surgical masks and personal protective suits, we can do our jobs as [the robots allow us to minimise] direct contact with patients,” said Dr. Sukrom Chi-Charoen, deputy director of Rajavithi Hospital, in an interview with Nikkei Asian Review.
Somchai Lertsutiwong, chief executive of AIS, said that installing 5G networks at hospitals and deploying telemedicine robots is an initiative called “AIS 5G Battling COVID-19 for Thais” to help reduce the risks of infection by limiting human contact, as well as patient traffic inside hospitals. “We have provided 21 robots to 20 hospitals with installed 5G network equipment that currently treat coronavirus patients,” he said.
According to Lertsutiwong, AIS has recently tripled its network capacity and would spend another $1.2 billion on 5G, aiming to serve 13 per cent of Thailand’s population by the end of this year.
Earlier, a report of AT Kearney, a global management consulting firm, said that while Singapore pioneered implementing and testing 5G with the highly expected access rate of nearly 60 per cent, it will not commercialise 5G until next January and only expects to reach a coverage of half of its territory by the end of 2020.
Although Singapore has planned to use 5G in the fields of energy and transport, the high expenses are still a burden. VIR