New race for mobile phone subscribers begins

March 10, 2016 | 08:56 am GMT+7

Telecommunication experts said they can see signs of a new race triggered by telcos to add new subscribers.


 Experts thought that the subscriber development period was over, but they will have to change their mind as 25 million new subscribers were added in 2015 alone.

According to the Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group (VNPT), by the end of 2015, VinaPhone, one of the three largest mobile networks in Vietnam, had 29.7 million subscribers, an increase of 3.3 million over the end of 2014.
Viettel, one of the three operators, had 56.4 million subscribers by the end of 2015, an increase of 6.8 million.
Le Nam Tra, President of MobiFone, stated that the network has 15 million new subscribers.
Prior to that, in 2013, VNPT reported a sharp decrease of 10.8 million subscribers for both VinaPhone and MobiFone, while Viettel reported a modest increase of 1.61 million subscribers.
At that time, he repeatedly complained that it was difficult to add new subscribers, and that the market was saturated with the number of subscribers higher by 50 percent than the total population. 
Telcos stated that they would not focus on new subscribers, but on taking care of  customers and retaining them.
However, things are different just one year later. They once again are competing in a a race for new subscribers, as VinaPhone and MobiFone received a license from the Ministry of Information and Communication for a new number depository. 
The simcards with 088 and 089 prefix numbers are launched by the two networks in the markets in early March.
An analyst estimated that if VinaPhone and MobiFone can exploit the new number depository, there would be about 12-14 million new subscribers with 088 and 089 prefixes (60-70 percent of the depository is used).
How to attract new subscribers?
“The telecom market has become saturated. Not all individuals want to have 2-3 subscribers. Therefore, mobile network operators, in order to develop new subscribers, only have one choice – taking subscribers from other network operators,” the senior executive of a mobile network operator said.
However, it is now impossible to attract subscribers with the policy on subscription fees, because the fee is very low, and users don’t care much about fees anymore.
What can help retain subscribers is added value, subscriber care, and quality of service.
However, before mobile network operators retain subscribers, they need to get new subscribers first. 
“You need to persuade people to use your services. After that, you need to retain them with customer care policies,” he said.