Viettel’s announcement makes it the sixth company in the world to develop 5G radio network equipment

Last year, Viettel said it would be using its own equipment for 5G, but later reneged on this statement, opting to use equipment from Ericsson and Nokia.

Now, however, it seems the use of locally developed equipment is back on the cards, with Viettel conducting its first 5G video call this weekend using entirely Vietnamese tech. 

Development of the hardware and software required to make the call allegedly took Viettel’s R&D arm, Viettel High Technology, six months to complete.

The new equipment meets 3GPP standards and could be used exclusively in creating a national network; however, whether Viettel will entirely eschew the likes of Ericsson and Nokia in favour of its own tech for its national rollout is unclear.

“We are very happy that Viettel is the sixth company in the world to have the opportunity to start commercialising 5G [meeting] official ITU standardisation. This is a very rare opportunity, creating a R&D platform for Vietnam,” Vietnam’s minister of science and technology, Chu Ngoc Anh, said in a translated statement.

This news could cause quite a splash in the Asian 5G market and beyond. Viettel offers services not only in Vietnam and neighboring Laos and Cambodia, but also in Haiti, Mozambique, East Timor, Cameroon, Peru, Burundi, Tanzania, and Myanmar. In future, these countries could provide an excellent market for Viettel’s new equipment.

As is so often the case with rapid technological breakthroughs, there is a political angle to Viettel’s success. As Chinese political influence grows in Southeast Asia, particularly as they venture into the contentious South China Sea, neighbouring countries are increasingly striving to develop competitive local tech, especially 5G.

“All countries are racing to deploy 5G to demonstrate their technological advancement,” said Le Dang Dung, Viettel Group’s chief executive. “It’s why Viettel considers 5G to be the most strategic project of the group.”

This launch makes Vietnam one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to launch 5G, with plans to make the network commercially available in June.


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