Quick response to natural disaster

The earthquake had spread impacts on several northern coastal provinces and the capital city of Port au Prince of Haiti. At the NOT branch of Natcom, the earthquake caused fire to a base transceiver station (BTS) due to an short circuit. Immediately, a quick-response team was deployed to the station to collaborate with local people in putting out the fire. The station was heavily damaged, negatively affecting some 8,000 subscribers.

Against this backdrop, Natcom mobilized its technicians to quickly get materials and equipment from its general store during the night of October 6 and departed for the station early in the morning of the next day. The technical team was assigned to fix the station and restart its operation in the shortest time.

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Natcom - Viettel's branch in Haiti

Alongside fixing the station to facilitate the communications of local people in the earthquake-hit areas, the company also provided exempted its local subscribers from all fees, delivered food, clean water and necessities to victims of the earthquake. On its fanpage, Natcom gave local people instructions on ways to minimize losses during earthquakes. Natcom’s moves were highly appreciated by local people.

Taking the lead in local telecommunication market

It can be said that Haiti was the foreign market with the most difficult condition that Viettel had started to invest in. It had also been Viettel’s farthest market, compare to its foreign markets at that time. In 2010, only three days before Viettel’s leaders flew to Haiti to sign a deal on the purchase of 60% of the total share of the Haitian National Telecommunication Company (Teleco) and establishment of a telecommunication joint-venture with the partner, the most terrible earthquake in human history happened in the country, killing more than 300,000 people.

At that time, few people thought that the Vietnamese Military-Run Telecommunication and Industry Group would return to the earthquake-hit country to do business as 90% of the country’s major infrastructural projects were completely destroyed or heavily damaged. The capital city was almost leveled, more than two million people were homeless, alive people lacked everything, and the economy with a high inflation rate was exhausted, not to mention the country’s unstable political situation, mass demonstrations, riots, violence and crimes.

According to official statistics, 80% of the country population of nearly 10 million was still living under the poverty line with their average income of less than USD 2 per day

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Photo for illustration

Meanwhile, 80% of Teleco’s infrastructure was completely destroyed. Before the historic earthquake, Teleco had lost at least one million US dollars per month since 2001. Teleco had had only some 40,000 fixed-line telephone subscribers, and the number had kept going down.

By that time, Viettel had not had much experience in doing business in a foreign market far from its headquarters. Before Haiti, Viettel had invested only in the two foreign markets, namely Laos and Cambodia, which are Vietnam’s neighbors. There had not been a direct flight between Vietnam and Haiti so it had taken 5 days to travel between the two countries. Commenting on Viettel’s decision to invest in Teleco and found the joint-venture Natcom, Telecom TV One (the UK) noted that Viettel started the way that giant telecoms had not dared to go on.

But after one year since its birth, Natcom had become the mobile service provider that had had the largest and most modern infrastructure in the country. It had also been the first local telecom that had finished the building of a brand-new optical cable network of 4,681km in the disaster-hit country.

7 years later in 2018, Natcom paid USD three million of the dividend of 2017 for its shareholders. This was the first time, since its official operation in September 2011, the company had made such a big profit. The great business result also meant much to the Haitian Government as this helped the government explain to the Parliament why it decided to choose Viettel as the partner of Teleco 7 years ago.

In the first 6 months of 2018, the numbers of Natcom’s mobile subscribers and clients of “fibre to the home” (FTTH) internet increased 1.5 and 2 times against the same time last year. In August, Natcom was granted by the Haitian Government the “golden frequency band” of 1700Mhz to provide 4G services. With the frequency, Natcom is racing against time in competition with its rivals to complete the infrastructure and start providing 4G services across the country.

With its credibility and position, Natcom has also won a number of important contracts, such as the Haitian Government’s project to build the national communication axis worth USD 5.5 million, a contract with UNESCO worth USD 425,000, a contract to provide 4G services for the Office of the Haitian President, to name but a few.

Natcom Director General Ha The Duong said, “Natcom has overcome the most difficult period and starts doing business well in the country. With the license on the frequency band of 1700Mhz, it has a great advantage in the race with its rivals to build and provide 4G services in the country.”

So far, Natcom has ranked first among local telecoms in terms of infrastructure with 1,800 2G/3G/4G BTS, 6,000 km of optical cable; and second in terms of the telecommunication market share with its total number of clients of 3.4 million or 35% of the market share. Natcom aims at a 17.5% increase in sales and a 47% hike in profit in 2018.

Translated by Thu Nguyen