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Will there be fees for online service firms in Vietnam?
Phi Nhat 18:39, 2023/04/10
The "fair contribution" of online services to infrastructure investment has been brought up by Vietnamese carriers.

Vietnamese telecom operators said the draft revised Telecommunications Law should require online service providers to share network costs with Vietnamese operators.

 "Fair share” is a matter of great concern in Vietnam. Photo: The Hanoi Times

Bui Son Nam, deputy general director of MobiFone Corporation - one of Vietnam's largest network operators - made the proposal at this week's related meeting.

He added that telecom operators, including MobiFone, have invested heavily in modern infrastructure. Meanwhile, social networking platforms and cross-border over-the-top (OTT) players have achieved double-digit growth rates in Vietnam without spending a dime on network infrastructure.

"Our average revenue per unit [ARPU] is dropping every day," he said.

Cao Anh Son, general director of Viettel Telecom, a subsidiary of Viettel Group, said that these online service companies all provide services on the infrastructure of domestic operators without sharing costs with them. The investment in connectivity to ensure service quality rests on the shoulders of network operators.

He urged the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and the Department of Telecommunications to find solutions so that social networking platforms and OTT players operating in the Vietnamese market have to share with Vietnamese telecom companies. This way, the government agency can ensure the management of the content provided on the Internet and the development of infrastructure for users.

Son said the issue of a "fair share" of network costs from big tech companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) was raised by global network operators attending the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023 in Spain recently.

For Vietnam, this is also an issue of interest to Viettel and domestic telecom companies, as domestic carriers have all invested heavily in infrastructure, but have yet to receive fair share from cross-border OTT and social networking platforms. "Fair share" means that cross-border platforms and OTTs have to pay infrastructure fees to the host country's carriers.

Nguyen Phong Nha, Deputy Director of the MIC's Department of Telecommunications, emphasized that "fair share" is a major concern in Vietnam. Like network operators around the world, domestic carriers have to make huge investments in network infrastructure, along with high operating and maintenance costs. However, their profits are going down, along with revenue from voice and messaging services as users switch to OTT services.

Currently, domestic carriers are under great pressure from users in terms of service quality.

"In the near future, in the process of amending the Telecommunications Law, we will propose additional regulations to ensure consumers' rights to advanced services and profits for telecom companies to reinvest in the development of new and better technologies for the digital transformation, digital economy, and digital society," said the head of the Telecommunications Department.

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