Old-tech 2G network must be shut down to promote digital economy

November 4, 2020 | 09:40 am GMT+7

Le Thanh Hoa from the Market Licensing Division of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority said that deciding to shut down old-tech waveband is a burning issue right now.


 The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) says 2G must be switched off for network operators to optimize operation and reserve frequency resources for new technologies and promote digital society and digital economy. Can you please elaborate on this?

When getting rid off 2G and 3G technologies, countries apply different methods and have different targets. However, if deploying new 5G mobile technology while maintaining 2G, 3G and 4G at the same time, it will be very costly and ineffective.
Therefore, it is necessary to shut down old-tech wavebands to optimize the operation and reserve radio frequency band for new technology, meeting the national and network operators’ development goals.
Some countries in the world shut down 2G first, while others switched off 3G. Vietnam’s mobile network operators also have different opinions about the issue as they have different strengths and characterstics in networks and clients.
I have to study the experience of other countries, analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each switch-off method and predict how the methods affect people, businesses and the country, and then submit plans to MIC for approval.
People are concerned if the switching off will affect them, if they have to spend money on new phones.
Meanwhile, network operators want to know how to shut down 2G and 3G networks to get the best benefits. In general, it is necessary to find out the possible impact of the switching off on society and this must be done in accordance with a master strategy.
Shutting down 3G network has a big advantage in that it would be less costly because the number of terminals supporting 3G is smaller than the number of devices that only support 2G.
Besides, 3G is an incomplete data transmission technology which has higher data transfer speed than 2G, but it does not support high-speed interactive services such as television, video, and streaming like 4G technology does.
However, the disadvantage of the option is that it won’t create breakthrough development in society striving for a digital economy and society, which the Party and government are determined to promote.
It would be more difficult to shut down 2G, because it will have great impact on society. There is a high number of subscibers using terminals supporting 2G only. If switching off 2G, the terminal compensation cost will be higher.
However, if shutting down 2G, we will be able to accelerate the implementation of the national digital transformation program by 2025 approved by the Prime Minister, which says that 4G/5G and smartphones will be promoted for every Vietnamese citizen.
This will be a revolution that steps up the implementation of e-government, digital economy and digital society, and serve as a driving force for Vietnam to develop more rapidly and strongly.
This is a very important factor to consider.
When 100 percent of people use smartphones, this will promote the development of digital services, more data services will be used, and network operators will get more revenue and new development opportunities.
Many Vietnam companies now can master technology and manufacture smartphones, such as Vingroup, BKAV and VNPT Technology. These enterprises are capable of making low-cost smartphones which can compete with Chinese products.
Powerful enterprises like Vingroup have large production capacity which not only can satisfy demand for domestic consumption, but also for export.
This is a favorable step for Vietnam to switch off old-tech waveband and encourage people to use smartphones. The strategy will also encourage Vietnam’s electronics industry to serve the local market of 100 million people.
If old-tech waveband is shut down, it is necessary to give support to subscribers using phones that don’t support high technologies. What should we do?
In some countries, the state won’t make an intervention into network opreators’ decisions to switch off old technologies, which means that network operators have to take the initiative in implementing their plans. Other countries apply policies to encourage the use of new technologies.
We propose a roadmap to switch off old technologies in accordance with the national development plan.
When swtiching off 2G, it is necessary to apply a policy to help people to shift to smartphones. When the number of subscribers using old-tech networks falls to 5 percent, then it will be the right time to switch off the networks.