Viettel's technician installing a 4G BTS station

Work of a year done in a week

It is reasonable to say that Viettel is carrying out an unprecedented “campaign” because it takes businesses years to set up a telecommunication infrastructural network. Many of them invest gradually, often in urban areas first, then in rural areas after they have already called in their investment. They even bypass remote areas. Well-known for its fast rate of network expansion, Viettel still needed four years to complete its 2G network and eight years to complete its 3G network. However, it takes Viettel only six months to nearly complete the whole 4G network’s infrastructure, also expanded to remote areas.

According to Colonel Tao Duc Thang, Deputy Director General of Viettel Group and Director General of Viettel Net, Viettel formed 1,500 teams, three workers each, to install 4G BTS stations nationwide. The group has set target to complete the installation by April 10, 2017, earlier than the previous deadline of April 15. After nearly six months, the group has completed the installation of more than 36,000 stations, higher than the number of 3G BTS stations (35,000 stations), to provide 4G services to subscribers in the whole country. This is the fast installation rate recorded in the world.

Nearly 10 years before, Viettel installed 2G BTS stations, creating the first boom in the telecommunication development in Vietnam. At that time, only 8,000 2G BTS stations were installed in one year, which was already a great number at that time. As for 3G, Viettel broke its own record as 10,000 BTS stations were installed in one year. Now as the installation of 4G BTS stations has been in progress, Viettel has demonstrated high determination as the group does not want to miss the chance to prepare for the fourth industrial revolution of the country. In fact, Viettel installs about 1,000 4G BTS stations each day. It means the work of a year for 2G BTS stations has been done in one week now.

At present, the 4G network of Viettel has been providing services to 704 districts (99% of al the districts), including 100 border districts. Not only at district level, the group has brought 4G services to nearly 6,300 communes, equivalent to 70% of all communes nationwide, including a lot of communes in remote and border areas and island communes.

That fast rate takes root from the vision of the group’s leaders. Colonel Tao Duc Thang shared that right in early days of the group, its leaders determined to build a widespread system of optical fiber infrastructure, serving as the basis for the group to implement broadband technologies. Therefore, so far Viettel has 320,000km of optical fiber in Vietnam and 500,000km of optical fiber in all its markets, more than 12 times the earth’s circumference.

That Viettel has that fast process of 4G BTS installation is also thanks to the exceptional efforts of its technical workers. They work with the high spirit of a soldier in a campaign. And only with that spirit could they complete the installation at that fast rate. Despite hardship, the workers feel proud as they are contributing to improving the technological infrastructure of the country. The pride in turn has helped them overcome hardship during work to complete their missions.

As valued by experts, with more than 36,000 4G BTS stations, Viettel may help Vietnam enter the list of top 20 countries with most modern 4G infrastructure and largest coverage of 4G services to its population. Viettel is using 4TX/4RX beamforming technique, which is by far better than the popular current 2TX/2RX technique used for providing 4G services. At present, no more than 10% of service providers in the world are using 4TX/4RX beamforming technique. With this modern technique, Viettel can improve its service quality.

Infrastructure for the fourth industrial revolution

4G (fourth generation) is the fourth generation mobile communications technology which can transfer data at the theoretical speed of up to 1 Gbps to 1.5 Gb/s, or six to 10 times faster than the current 3G technology. Generally, the 3G technology in Vietnam can only reach 10Mb/s for downloading data and about 4Mb/s for uploading data.

From 1G to 4G, there have been a good number of revolutions taking place in mobile connection technologies. 1G is the mobile technology that uses analog signals for voice services only. 2G is the digital technology that allows subscribers to listen, call and send messages. 3G technology enables the transmission of both voice and broadband data. 4G technology aims at ultra-wideband data connection.

Therefore, with 4G technology, telecommunications is not just telecommunications any more. It has more to do with IT, helping improve and facilitate the use of mobile applications in all areas of life. Life becomes easier with e-services via mobile devices, and more. According to experts, with deeper engagement in more aspects of life, the telecoms industry can contribute up to 15% or even 20% to the country’s GDP, instead of just 4% at present.

Viettel's technicians at the newly-installed 4G BTS station
Mobile phones were first used in Vietnam in 1993, but only in 2005, as Viettel entered the market, a revolution occurred and altered the country’s telecommunications industry. In 2004, just 4% of the population had cellphones while the figure reached almost 100% in 2008. With this achievement, Viettel helped Vietnam recognized by the world as one of the countries with fastest telecommunications growth rates. In 2010, Vietnam was in the list of the 10 countries with fastest telecommunications growth rates.

12 years from then, Viettel is preparing for the second telecommunications revolution. Though Vietnam was late in issuing licenses for 4G coverage, Viettel is determined to regain its position in the telecommunications map in the world. So far, including Vietnam, Viettel has been providing 4G services in seven countries. Viettel is now also capable of producing 4G BTS stations and is replacing imported with its own equipment.

Major General Nguyen Manh Hung, Director General of Viettel Group, said, “With 4G, Viettel is determined to regain its telecommunications rank in the world, building the telecommunications infrastructure in advance, preparing for the development of the country, especially the fourth industrial revolution based on the broadband telecommunications platform.”

4G for everyone

The big investment and rapid deployment of Viettel show the commitments of the group. Accordingly, Viettel has set a target that every Vietnamese will have a smartphone with access to the internet by 2020. The investment also represents Viettel’s strategic vision. Smart phones and mobile broadband bring opportunities for developing countries. Narrowing the gap between rural and urban areas and between the rich and the poor is not easy and takes time. Telecommunications, however, can shorten the time. Viettel is working on solutions to make its 4G services’ charges lower than those of 3G. Especially, Viettel will work to ensure that people can use free 4G to access some basic information sources, such as basic knowledge of laws, agriculture production, and healthcare.

Regarding devices, at present Viettel offers 4G cellphones at the price VND 2 million. It is planning to produce cellphones at the price of only VND 1 million to bring 4G services to every one.

The most difficult thing, which is the investment in the infrastructure for 4G services, has been so far nearly completed. Viettel will not stay their on its triumph; instead, it has begun its research on 5G technology. A new revolution of the nation has really been shaped.

Translated by Huu Duong