No radio frequency auctioned for 13 years, NA debates amendment to law

April 20, 2022 | 09:12 am GMT+7

Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung said the amendment aims to clarify the allocation of radio frequencies to telecom carriers, the transfer of frequencies and the handling of frequencies when licenses expire.


The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on April 18 discussed the draft law on amendments and supplements to some articles of the Law on Radio Frequencies.

Hung said the law, issued more than 10 years ago, has contributed to the development of radio communications, especially mobile communications. 

Vietnam has 65 million smartphone users. Smartphones with internet connections have become the first condition of the digital economy. 

Mobile communications have been making important contributions to socio-economic development over the last 11 years, creating revenue of VND1.2 quadrillion, or $52 billion, paying VND400 trillion, or $17 billion, to the state budget, and creating hundreds of thousand of jobs. 

While 2G, 3G and 4G are just for calling and messaging, 5G is the infrastructure of the digital economy and 5G is a top priority of many countries. 

According to Hung, the biggest problem is the scarcity of frequencies for business. Of 6,000 MHz of usable frequencies, only 15 percent is for business, while the remaining can be used for specialized networks, including national defence and security. 

Fair allocation of frequencies is a matter set forth in the 2009 law, under which frequencies are allocated via auctions. However, because of unclear regulations, no frequency has been auctioned for the last 10 years. Vietnam has not allocated new 4G frequencies to telecom carriers, and frequencies for 2G and 3G have been used for 4G.

Elaborating on the issue, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Pham Duc Long said the auction of frequencies was not implemented over many years because of problems in legal documents, especially the property auction law, with the methods of determining prices not suitable to frequencies. 

The 2017 law on management and use of public property created a foundation for radio frequency auctions. The Government has issued a decree on allocating frequencies, and auctioning and granting licenses. These legal documents, plus amendments of some articles of the Law on Radio Frequencies, will make the frequency auctioning implementable. 

According to Hung, the frequencies put into business account for 15 percent of total frequencies, and the figure won’t increase. The other 85 percent are for specialized networks. But in fact, national defence and public security only use 4 percent, while 81 percent remain unused. 

Under the current law, in case of emergencies, all frequencies for business, including the ones sold, will be used for national defence and public security unconditionally.

Therefore, only the legal entities with a Vietnamese ownership ratio of over 50 percent can attend auctions.