Mobile phone subscriber growth in 2012’s first six months is under the microscope.
By the end of May, 2012 Vietnam was home to 132.8 million telephone subscribers. Of them, mobile phone users amounted to 122.79 million, representing 92.5 per cent and fixed line users approximately 10 million, making up 7.5 per cent, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) Telecom Department.
With a population of 88 million, this means each Vietnamese person uses an average 1.5 mobile SIM cards, after one decade’s high growth in telecom services.
However, statistics from 2012’s first six months show that mobile phone user growth had reached saturation point with only around 800,000-1.2 million new subscribers each month, and 5.4 million new subscribers after half a year, up 2.8 per cent against the same period in 2011, according to VnExpress.net.
Telecom firms also pointed out to unstable growth in mobile subscriber numbers as several million customers have reportedly frequently changed service providers to enjoy their diverse sales promotions.
For instance, in 2011, MobiFone rolled out 30 million SIM cards. There remained 500,000 SIM cards only by the year end tantamount to 1.66 per cent. In fact, ‘virtual’ subscribers just add to telcos’ subscriber count while generating little profits to firms.
Virtual mobile phone subscribers are expected to plummet in number following enforcement of MIC’s Circular 04/2012/TT-BTTTT on managing pre-paid mobile phone subscribers, effective from June 1, 2012.
Accordingly, the purchase, circulation and use of pre-paid multi-function SIM cards to register subscriber information will also be banned. Besides, pre-paid mobile subscribers will have to directly register their personal information at agencies for subscriber information registration.
In addition, to restrict virtual mobile subscriber growth MIC has worked on a fee restructuring draft which will require pre-paid mobile phone subscribers to pay network connection and associated fees as post-paid subscribers to ensure impartiality among diverse customer groups.
MIC Deputy Minister Le Nam Thang assumed sales promotion policies equally applied to new and existing, prepaid or postpaid clients would help drive down the number of ‘virtual’ mobile phone subscribers.