Supporting policies needed to fast-track 5G commercialisation

March 27, 2023 | 12:06
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While businesses are waiting for 5G commercialisation to enable their next steps, more efforts are being honest to make it happen. Nguyen Phong Nha, deputy general director of the Ministry of Information and Communications Authority of Telecommunications, talked to VIR's Bich Thuy about 5G rollout in Vietnam.

How has 5G been piloted in Vietnam so far, and is the nation ready for commercialisation in 2023?

Up to now, 5G in Vietnam is still in a trial process by Viettel, VNPT, and Mobifone in more than 40 cities and provinces. They are testing different frequency bands from low to mid-band and mmWave band.

From the user side, the first experience of mobile broadband speed, is not too impressive for users because the current 4G speed is meeting the current needs of users in watching movies and television and so on, so the speeds of a few hundred Mb/s or even Gb/s that 5G brings is not a mass market requirement.

Supporting policies urged to fast-track 5G commercialization
Nguyen Phong Nha, deputy general director of the Ministry of Information and Communications’ Authority of Telecommunications

For high-density or low-latency user cases, there have been no tests with impressive results and no clear demand from users. This is a reality not only in Vietnam but also in other countries when deploying 5G.

The ability to provide diversified and personalised services according to users’ needs, and the outstanding features of 5G, have been widely disseminated in state agencies and at enterprises in all fields, from underground mining to seaports, and from transportation to healthcare.

Understanding 5G applications will be necessary for customers in making their own requirements in the future. These are the good chances for technology businesses, and startups have many plans and research to develop their businesses based on such possibilities.

The factories and businesses in all sectors know about 5G applications, so now, the trial stage is the right time for cooperating with the telecom’s operators to trial 5G applications in their business. If is successful, it will be implemented immediately.

Previously, the deployment of mobile networks was about coverage and speed of download or upload. Looking back, 2G had almost no trials, and with 3G we also did not test much. Meanwhile, 4G has had testing on 2G and 3G-deployed bands to ensure resource allocation consistent with subscribers and service delivery capacity of the network, and the testing period took place under one year before official deployment.

But 5G trials for mobile network operators this time is not simple. They have to experiment with network organisation, following the NSA model – based on the existing 4G network or SA technology to deploy 5G completely independently. This is really a big issue that needs decisions that greatly affect the investment of network operators.

What are the supporting policies for businesses to encourage them to join 5G commercialisation?

Standards such as national technical regulations on 5G mobile communication base station equipment, on standalone terminal equipment, and on the quality of internet access services on such networks are ready for businesses and protect the interests of users.

The policy of discontinuing technology that is no longer relevant has been promoted and has produced results. This will allow businesses to use the frequencies used for 2G, 3G technologies to deploy 5G. This policy is to help operators reduce the OPEX for the 2G and 3G networks and the 2G and 3G frequencies should be used for 4G and 5G.

Promoting 5G application standards and information security for application services and others is also vital. The government should strengthen the guarantee of medium, low and mmwave frequency bands available for 5G.

At the same time, enterprises should be urged to cooperate in building laboratories, training institutions, professional research institutes, or research centres with universities to boost development of training and technical practice.

Finally, it must welcome the role of international organisations and encourage enterprises to participate in the research and development of 5G standards and next-generation networks.

What international lessons should Vietnam learn to ensure success?

Although 5G technology and the ecosystem have been discussed many times, even the most developed countries are still in the early stages of commercialisation. Following the progress of commercialisation worldwide, there are a few points to note.

The countries with the fastest 5G development in 2022 all spent a large amount of money to expand coverage. Some countries spent big in deployment, such as China, South Korea, Japan, the United States, Spain, and others. However, no country has achieved absolute coverage for the entire population.

For example, Japan aims to develop a 5G network by building a network that covers 97 per cent of Japan's population by 2025, and to build a network that covers 99 per cent of Japan's population by 2030.

According to an Ericsson report in 2022, some 30 per cent of the world's population has coverage and this is expected to reach 85 per cent by 2028. Many network operators are currently implementing NSA architecture in the early stages and plan to migrate it when there is a high demand in user experience.

The growth of 4G subscribers reached a peak at the end of 2022 and began to decline in the coming period to gradually switch to 5G subscribers. The number of 2G/3G subscribers continues to decline, and this suggests that now is the time for the transition to network development.

The majority of countries will choose to apply Open Radio Network technology. This technology helps reduce investment costs by 30 per cent, thus improving competitiveness. To popularise 5G sooner, it is necessary to build a mature application ecosystem from low to high frequency.

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