Vietnam's Mobile Roaming

A new joint venture between Vietnam's largest telecom company and wholesale telco-services outfit ETN Singapore targets Vietnamese expats

A joint venture between VNPT, Vietnam's largest telecommunications company, and wholesale telecommunication services provider ETN Singapore, promises Vietnamese working overseas a more economic mobile telephone service.

Called VNPT - G.S., the new setup is headquartered in Singapore and equally owned by both companies. It aims to offer consumer-based telecom services to expatriate Vietnamese residing in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, officials said at a signing ceremony here Tuesday.

VNPT - G.S. will initially focus on providing voice services, and operate primarily on a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) model and "piggy back" on existing telecommunication networks operated by various infrastructure service providers in the region. VNPT - G.S. plans to offer prepaid SIM cards that provide attractive pricing to Vietnamese expatriates and overseas travelers, company executives said.

For example, over 95 percent of the Vietnamese mobile market is based on prepaid services, which can require consumers to deposit US$700 to access global roaming services. VNPT - G.S. said it will offer such customers a more affordable alternative.

Richard Tang, CEO of VNPT - G.S., told ZDNet Asia that it will roll out its service to wholesale customers in the next few weeks, and to the retail market over the next three months.

"Our operations will be quickly initiated in Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and Taiwan, with Australia, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to follow later in 2009," said Tang, who is also CEO of ETN Singapore.

The joint venture will initially employ five full-time staff seconded from each of the two partners, but plans to expand its headcount to 15 within the first year.

Tang Ngoc Truong An, deputy general director of VNPT Global Investment JSC, noted in a press statement: "There are currently around 2 million expatriate Vietnamese in the targeted regions, a population which is growing by over 30 percent per annum."

VNPT - G.S. said it aims to capture 50 percent of the market.

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