The Vietnamese regulator has released 3G spectrum to four of the country’s mobile operators and reports suggest that the first 3G services could launch as early as next month. According to VietNamNet Bridge, Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications has awarded three licenses to existing 2G operators Viettel, Vinaphone and MobiFone, and the fourth to a joint-venture between EVN Telecom and Hanoi Telecom. The four winners were the same reported to have secured the licenses earlier in the year. The total fees paid were VND8.1 trillion (US$450 million), the Ministry said. Market-leader Viettel accounted for over half of the total, paying VND4.5 trillion.
According to VietNamNet Bridge, Viettel will invest up to VND12,789 billion (US$710.5 million) in the 3G network over the next three years while other competitors will invest around half this figure. However, at a ceremony awarding the licenses, Viettel’s general director Hoang Anh Xuan was downbeat on the prospects of the operator recouping its investment anytime soon. Among the other operators, Vinaphone has reportedly committed to supplying 3G services within one month of the license taking effect on 15 September, but has not given an official date; MobiFone plans to launch services in December 2009, while EVN Telecom/Hanoi Telecom has been given nine months to launch services.