How telecoms law facilitates commercialisation for 5G

January 12, 2024 | 14:39
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One of the key objectives of the National Digital Transformation Programme towards 2025 is the widespread availability of 5G mobile network services. Consequently, facilitating the early commercialisation of 5G mobile networks is outlined as one of the tasks to establish this.

To enable commercialisation, two critical factors are licensing and infrastructure. To support the government in realising this goal, the amended Law on Telecommunications was endorsed by the National Assembly in November and is set to take effect from July 1. Several provisions within the amended law are designed to bolster the 5G network’s commercialisation goals.

How telecoms law facilitates commercialisation for 5G
Vu Thanh Minh, Partner, LNT & Partners

Telecommunications licensing has been restructured into three forms: individual licences, group licences, and registration. The criteria for individual licences are specific and stringent, requiring careful business planning and deployment because this form applies to cases where businesses have infrastructure using radio frequency or infrastructure in areas with special requirements. For 5G, these regulations help optimise the use of frequencies, infrastructure, and ensure service quality.

For group licences and registration applying to other cases, such restructuring helps reduce administrative procedures, saving time and costs for businesses, reducing the burden on most businesses looking to enter the telecommunications sector in general and 5G network business in particular.

One of the fundamental differences between 5G and older generations is that 5G networks use higher frequency bands (from 1GHz to tens of GHz). Licensing and approval for accessing high-frequency bands are, therefore, keys to developing 5G networks.

The amended Law on Radio Frequency in 2022 has addressed this issue by regulating new licences for the use of high-value commercial frequency bands mainly through bidding and, in some cases, selection or in-person/reissue. This has successfully addressed the bandwidth bottleneck in the roadmap for commercialising the 5G network. In addition, to fulfil the requirements of 5G network commercialisation, the number of BTS stations is expected to double the current count at least.

However, relying solely on telecommunications service providers to secure investment capital for 5G network infrastructure development poses a significant challenge for these businesses. This potential obstacle could hinder achieving the 5G network commercialisation goal.

In order to alleviate this concern and reduce the pressure on developing new BTS towers and related infrastructure, the amended law introduces more specific regulations on sharing telecommunications infrastructure and the planning of inactive telecommunications technical infrastructure.

Previously, the telecommunications law only addressed the obligation to share facilities between telecommunications businesses. A decade-old decree covered regulations on the common use of technical infrastructure in urban areas, including antenna masts, cable poles, technical trenches and tunnels, and roads and bridges.

However, the amended telecommunications law extends the obligation to share infrastructure beyond telecommunications businesses, including defence and security agencies. To ensure implementation, the amended law also introduces methods for determining prices and outlines the responsibility of government authorities in deciding contractual terms if the parties cannot reach an agreement on the terms of the sharing contract.

In addition, Article 65 emphasises the importance and mandatory nature of inactive telecommunications infrastructure. Regulations on the construction of works on public property are being added, along with mechanisms to ensure implementation and sustainability. Residential buildings, public works, and industrial clusters must have a design for the construction of inactive infrastructure, design for installation of cable systems, and transmission systems to ensure at least two telecoms businesses can provide services in these areas.

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By Thanh Minh

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