Vietnam’s largest mobile operator Viettel faced criticism from some customers over a decision to charge for activating iMessage and FaceTime on their Apple devices, Tuoi Tre News reported.

The military-run operator, which holds a 36 per cent market share, last week notified customers by SMS it would charge an activation fee of VND2,500 ($0.11) for each service starting 15 October. It said iMessage and FaceTime are activated individually, so users need to pay VND5,000 to turn on both services.

Many subscribers misunderstood the message and thought they’d be charged VND2,500 for every iMessage or FaceTime call, the newspaper said.

Viettel clarified the activation fee is applied when a subscriber uses iMessage or FaceTime with a new SIM card for the first time, or when they use either service after resetting their device. The operator said users will not have to pay the fee each time they turn their device on or off, or switch to aeroplane mode, Tuoi Tre News reported.

When the FaceTime or iMessage apps are turned on in settings for the first time, the operator sends an international SMS to Apple’s server in the UK to activate them, the newspaper said. Viettel covered the fee in the past.

The operator noted the charges are in line with industry standards, with similar services like Xiaomi’s Mi message also requiring an activation fee.