Vietnam’s biggest network operators plan to waive roaming fees

January 20, 2017 | 02:35 pm GMT+7

Following Viettel, VNPT and MobiFone are considering waiving roaming fees in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The policy has never been applied in any other region in the world.


Viettel, the military telco, has officially announced it won’t collect roaming fees from subscribers in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, commencing from January 1, 2017. This means that that Viettel’s subscribers in Vietnam, MetFone’s subscribers in Cambodia and Unitel’s subscribers in Laos will only pay domestic fees for their phone calls during their travels to other countries in the same region.

Speaking at a recent conference on implementing 2017’s tasks, director of VNPT-I Lam Quoc Cuong also said VNPT has asked for permission to waive roaming like Viettel. 

Cuong said many VNPT subscribers have business relations with their partners in Laos and Cambodia, and the roaming fee waiving will facilitate their business. 

VNPT expects the nod from the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC), so that its subscribers can also receive the same treatment as Viettel’s subscribers.

Cuong went on to say that in case MIC rejects the proposal, its subscribers would be at a disadvantage, while VNPT will find it difficult to compete with Viettel.
However, in order to implement the plan, VNPT will need support from MIC, because this will require the agreement among the telecommunication watchdog agencies of the three countries.

Just days later, at a MobiFone’s conference, Ly Quoc Minh, director of MobiFone Zone 9 also proposed to apply the policy on roaming fee waiving in Indochina.

An analyst commented that it is a wise move by mobile network operators to waive roaming fee to compete in attracting customers. VNPT and MobiFone will not be competitive if their subscribers cannot enjoy the roaming fee waiving policy like Viettel’s.

Buu Dien quoted a source as reporting that Viettel now has more than 2 million subscribers that have roaming to Laos and Cambodia, but only 0.5 percent of them, or nearly 10,000 subscribers use roaming services. 

This means that nearly no one uses the service because the fee is unaffordable to many users. Meanwhile, the demand for it is high, because communication is considered a daily basic need.

The analyst pointed out that the new policy would help increase revenue from domestic telecom services, because Vietnamese travelers to Laos and Cambodia will be able to use their domestic simcards, and will not need to buy simcards in Laos and Cambodia.

Phnom Penh Post reported that Axiata, belonging to Xiata Group, also has announced the waving of roaming fee from January 1, 2017.

The roaming fee weaving has not been applied in any zone in the world, even though this was first discussed by European countries many years ago.