Vietnam has awarded its first four 3G licenses, reports a Vietnamese state-run newspaper today, noting that the first high-speed mobile services could launch as early as June. Vietnam Net reported today that existing 2G mobile firms Viettel, Vinaphone and MobiFone have all secured 15-year licenses while a fourth has been awarded to a joint-venture between EVN Telecom and Hanoi Telecom. EVN Telecom is a subsidiary of state-owned utility Electricity of Vietnam, while Hanoi Telecom is associated with Hong Kong’s Hutchison, which owns local operator HT Mobile. According to earlier reports, at least six 2G operators had applied to Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) for 3G licenses. S-Fone and GTel are reportedly the two firms not to be awarded licenses at this stage.
According to Wireless Intelligence data, Vietnam had 57.2 million mobile connections by year-end 2008. The market-leader is Viettel (22 million), followed by MobiFone (15.7 million) and Vinaphone (15 million). The three largest operators are GSM-based, while two smaller firms – HT Mobile and S-Fone – run CDMA networks. GTel, which is backed by Russia’s VimpelCom, is planning to launch its first 2G services later this year.