Officially launched in October 2009, after 13 year-operation, Unitel has become the largest telecommunications operator and one of the companies contributing the most to the budget and earning great reputation among the Lao Government and people. The business has been credited as a typical model in economic cooperation by the Party and Government of the two countries.

In an interview granted to a reporter of the People’s Army Newspaper, Star Telecom’s Director General Tran Trung Hung said that Unitel’s target is to become a leading technology corporation in Laos by 2025 and contribute more to the development of the neighboring country and bring a better life to local people.

Success story in Vietnam – Laos economic cooperation

Director General Tran Trung Hung

ReporterIn your opinion, what is Unitel's outstanding success in Laos?

Star Telecom’s Director General Tran Trung Hung: Unitel's outstanding success is not just its achievements in doing business, but its responsibility to contribute to Laos and its people.

Reporter: Could you elaborate more on that?

Star Telecom’s Director General Tran Trung Hung: There are some things to mention. Firstly, Unitel is the second largest tax and budget payer in Laos and the first in the telecommunications sector. On average, Unitel contributes USD 53 million to the Lao state budget each year. Notably, Unitel is the largest job-creating enterprise in Laos with more than 27,000 employees.

Currently, Unitel is the largest telecommunications service provider in Laos with 9,000 base transceiver stations (including nearly 4,000 4G stations) and 37.5 thousand kilometers of fiber optic cable. Unitel has made Laos to be one of the countries with the largest telecommunications infrastructure in the ASEAN region. Before  the presence of Unitel  in Laos, only 18% of population had access to mobile services. After six years, mobile has become common in Laos. 4G covers 70% of the country's area, making Laos one of the countries with the best 4G coverage and speed in ASEAN and bringing high-speed internet to all Lao people.

Unitel is always a pioneer in providing 4G-based mobile content services, especially television, online music, movies, social networks, etc., contributing to improving the quality of the Lao people’s life. As a leading enterprise in digital finance in Laos, Unitel's U-money e-wallet service has reached more than 1.6 million subscribers after only three-year operation, creating more convenient conditions for people and businesses in the country to make payments.

Together with doing business, Unitel has actively supported the Lao Government in digital transformation and building of e-government infrastructure with a total value of more than USD 3.3 million and conducted many meaningful social programs with a total sponsorship of more than USD 31 million. In particular, the unit has provided free Internet for schools, trained hundreds of high-quality personnel in information and telecommunications technology for Laos, assisted the construction of schools, presented scholarships, and helped those affected by floods and natural disasters. Especially, during the two strong outbreaks of COVID-19 in Laos, Unitel donated more than USD 800,000 to the Lao Government and people.

Lao people experiencing Unitel products

All actions must bring practical benefits to the Lao people and Government

Reporter: What is Unitel’s current goal?

Star Telecom’s Director General Tran Trung Hung: Unitel understands that in order to be a leading business, it is necessary to set high goals and clearly identify possible difficulties to be pro-active in all circumstances and continuously create pressure to handle. Unitel sets a goal of becoming a leading technology corporation in Laos by 2025, in which telecommunications is the main service, and fintech services, technology solutions, digital contents, e-commerce, healthcare, education, services, transport, agriculture... are the main drivers for growth in the future.

Unitel also sets a target to reach more than USD 306 million in revenue in 2025, continuing to affirm it as a typical example in economic cooperation of the two parties and two states in general and of the two defense ministries in particular.

Reporter: The goals are clear, so what are the great difficulties and advantages of Unitel to achieve them?

Star Telecom’s Director General Tran Trung Hung: A big difficulty is the inflation rate in Laos. Since the domestic currency exchange rate continues to decline, 100% of costs in Laos are used in USD that makes production costs increase and possibly reduces profits, affecting the business’s contribution to the budget. Another difficulty comes from competitors. Recently, a new telecommunications company was born in Laos, bringing the number of telecommunications service providers in the country to five. The competition, especially in price, is fierce since Laos is a small country with a small population and low consumption. Later-born competitors are willing to cover the losses in the first stage, so their prices are only half of Unitel's charges.

However, the biggest advantage for Unitel is the good traditional relationship, the faithful attachment between the Vietnamese and Lao people. The Lao Government is clear-headed to launch action plans in building a digital society and digital government. Especially, the Lao people are very friendly and have trust in services of Vietnamese businesses.

Reporter: What will be the core strategy for Unitel to solve these difficulties?

Star Telecom’s Director General Tran Trung Hung: Unitel's core strategy is that all activities must bring practical benefits to the Lao people and Government. Unitel leadership is clearly determined that only when new excellent telecommunications products and services are created will many jobs be created for the Lao people. And this is a practical act, improving the people's life. Unitel needs to be faster, stronger so that competitors cannot keep up with.

With the spirit of a soldier, determination, solidarity, and wisdom, Unitel will continue to make efforts, explore new methods and new technologies to continue to develop and contribute to the economic development of the two countries and two defense ministries.

Reporter: Thank you!

Translated by Tran Hoai