According to official statistics, Viettel is among only six 5G equipment providers but the single telecom in the world that can produce 5G equipment. In doing so, Viettel is taking the lead in changing the Vietnamese business mindset from “Made in Vietnam” to “Make in Vietnam” (Vietnamese people create and produce new products).

Viettel pioneers in researching and developing core equipment for 5G network

Engineers at Viettel High Technology Industries Corporation

Network security is always a crucial task in digital transformation and telecommunication. So when building a 5G infrastructure, all telecoms attach much importance to network security. For the telecoms that cannot produce 5G equipment, they have to seek high-profile providers to buy reliable equipment for their 5G network. Due to such security concerns, Viettel started years ago to actively invest in research and development of 5G equipment and the technology to build a 5G network. Viettel’s move has helped it now master the 5G technology as well as ensure network security for the country in digital transformation.

Recalling the days when his team was assigned to research and develop 5G equipment, Deputy Director of the Center for Radio Wideband Equipment (the R&D Center) of Viettel High Technology Industries Corporation (VHT) Nguyen Chi Linh said, “We faced lots of difficulties and challenges at first when we were tasked to research and develop 5G gNodeB in June 2019. But we all tried our best to work on the project as we comprehended that it was a premise for Viettel to master the 5G technology and ensure network security.”

With their five-year experience in researching and developing 4G equipment, the team successfully developed 5G gNodge in only six months. The team’s success in researching and developing 5G gNodge helped Viettel accelerate its production of 5G hardware and software as well as its mastery of the core technology and the building of its core network.

At the same time, Viettel also invested in 5G integrated circuits. The group actively cooperated with international 5G integrated circuit producers and domestic experts in researching and developing 5G integrated circuits for its network.

Just one year after it got a license to test its 5G network, on January 17, 2020, Viettel successfully conducted test calls on its 5G network with the 5G gNodeB made by its engineers. On November 30, 2020, the group started a commercial pilot-run of its 5G networks in several areas of the two biggest cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The maximum download speed on Viettel’s 5G network reaches 1.2 Gpbs, meeting the international standard for 5G network.       

Collective effort – Viettel’s working culture

One of the most important factors helping Viettel go faster in the 5G race is the company’s talented and energetic engineers and workers, particularly members of the team assigned to realize its 5G R&D Group. The group includes more than 130 engineers and workers, a majority of whom are born in the 1990s. The group has three sections based in three major cities, namely Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City but they coordinate very effectively. For instance, when engineers in Hanoi research and develop hardware, their peers in Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City work on software.

Nevertheless, they met lots of difficulties at first. Nguyen Chi Linh, Deputy Director of the R&D Center, shared, “At the beginning, we faced a crisis of personnel. We lacked competent engineers while the three sections worked in different cities. The sections of our group included both engineers with experience in researching 5G technology and those who were responsible for running the 4G network. As a result, each section had to earmark 40% of the workforce for the operation of the 4G network. In this circumstance, we should united together and found the most effective working regimes so as to develop the 5G technology.”

Linh also said that members of the group frequently shared and discussed ideas. Thanks to the collective mind, they step by step solved out difficulties and reaped fruitful results.

Recalling the first days when his center was assigned to research and develop 5G network equipment, the R&D Center Deputy Director said, the 5G R&D Group met a lot of difficulties from June 2019 to December. All members had to work around the clock, and they produced equipment and set up a 5G transmission station model. On October 30, 2019, they successfully pilot-ran the 5G station when mobile phones could receive the symbol of 5G. After that, they assessed the whole operation, and continued to improve both hardware and software. Thanks to their great effort, Viettel could successfully test the first-ever 5G call in Vietnam in January 2020.

But they still encountered another difficulty when the transmission speed could not surpass 850Mbps. The 5G R&D Group had to carefully look into each device and equipment to find errors. Finally, members of the group rebuilt the antenna and the transmission speed reached 1Gbps, meeting the standard for 5G network.     

Viettel facilitates digital transformation

So far, Viettel has completed 70% of the installation of its 5G network in Vietnam. There is still much work for Viettel’s 5G R&D Group to do. According to the VHT Deputy Director, the group will complete its mission only when Viettel officially operates its 5G network commercially and its 5G services meet the international 5G service standards and are accepted by its clients.

Viettel Hi-Tech Corporation has set a target that it will provide commercial 5G services in June 2022 in the country. It has also planned to complete the research and development of Microcell by 2022.

Viettel’s effort was highly valued by Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Phan Tam. He said, “What Viettel has done so far demonstrates the capacity of the Vietnamese people for researching and developing high technologies. By now, only several countries have been able to produce core equipment for 5G network.”

Acting Chairman and Director General of Viettel, Major General Le Dang Dung, stated that Viettel is laying a firm foundation for Vietnam to accelerating digital transformation by successfully developing the core equipment for 5G network.

Translated by Thu Nguyen