Vietnam has ambitions to be among the world’s first countries to launch 5G networks in 2020, with a testing phase expected in 2019, the information ministry said on Wednesday.
Speaking at an innovation event in Hanoi last week, Nguyen Manh Hung, Minister of Information said that the launch of 5G would be a huge leap forward in quality for Vietnam’s telecommunications industry.
5G is the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications, succeeding the 4G, 3G, and 2G systems.
According to a report published by the Reuters news agency, 5G networks will rely on denser arrays of small antennae and the cloud to offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than current 4G networks and serve as critical infrastructure for a range of industries.
Unlike the upgrades of cellular standards 2G in the early 1990’s, 3G around the new millennium and 4G in 2010, 5G standards will not just deliver faster phone and computer data but will also be a critical part of the infrastructure for an Internet of Things world, where they also connect up equipment and machines.
Minister Hung in his remarks to the audience said the 5G network is the most important infrastructure of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and establishing a developed an advanced 5G telecommunications network should be Vietnam’s top priority if it wants to be at the forefront of this revolution.
"5G is an opportunity for Vietnam not only to improve its data services and telecommunications ranking, but also to develop the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) industry," Hung said.
Speaking with the media on the sidelines of the Innovation event, Le Van Tuan, Deputy Director of Vietnam’s Authority of Radio Frequency Management said that a separate frequency band would be reserved for 5G services to ensure adequate bandwidth. Optical fiber cables will also be used to link 5G transceiver stations for optimal data transfer rates.
Nguyen Vu Luu, Director of Strategy for the Viettel telecommunications group, said that a fully developed 5G network would allow more than one million devices within an area of one square kilometer to simultaneously connect to the 5G network.
Other speakers and participants in the Innovation event said that Vietnamese mobile users remain skeptical about the government’s ability to roll out the new 5G network on schedule and the positive prospects of 5G technology.
Although the 4G service was launched in Vietnam in October 2016, as of today, only 30 million mobile users in Vietnam are subscribed to 4G data plans and Vietnam ranks 46th out of 88 surveyed countries in terms of 4G speed, averaging 21.49Mbps,
The biggest obstacle to more Vietnamese using 4G is that mobile network operators in Vietnam still have to use the same radio frequency band of 1,800 MHz for both their 4G and 2G services, which negatively affects bandwidth and data transfer rates. In October, the information ministry announced that it would allocate a separate frequency band for 4G services as early as in November, but so far the transition has not taken place.