Viettel’s unprecedented lightning fast 4G roll-out

March 29, 2017 | 09:20 am GMT+7

It took telecoms giant Viettel four years to complete its 2G mobile network roll-out in Vietnam and eight years for the 3G network. But for the 4G network, it took the company only six months to ensure coverage in even remote areas.

36,000 4G stations installed in six months

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Viettel’s 4G roll-out drive is considered unprecedented as it usually takes a telecoms company at least ten years to fully complete installing the total number of stations required for a telecoms network.

Deputy General Director of Viettel Corporation Tao Duc Thang said the company has dispatched 1,500 three-man teams to install 4G stations throughout the country and is trying to complete the infrastructure set-up by April 10, five days earlier than the initial plan.

After nearly six months, Viettel has completed installing more than 36,000 stations providing an extensive 4G network, similar to what it achieved with the 2G network and even larger than the company’s current 3G network with 35,000 stations. This remarkable pace has yet to be seen elsewhere in the world.

Nearly ten years ago, Viettel also carried out a 2G station installation drive, which gave way to a mobile phone boom in Vietnam, but at that time only 8,000 stations were installed in the peak year. It was then a huge number because there had never been any other telecom company to have had such a quick roll-out.

For 3G, Viettel broke its own record by installing 10,000 stations in 365 days. And now the company has completed the installation of 1,000 4G stations each day, meaning the number of 4G stations installed in just a week equals to that of a year when it rolled out the 2G network. Viettel’s 4G signals are now present in all provinces and cities in Vietnam, covering about 99% of all districts. In addition to provincial and district centres, Viettel has also brought 4G signal to many remote, mountainous and island communities.

Thang said since the early days, the company’s leadership had set a goal of building a widespread optic fibre network as a foundation for rolling out broadband technologies. As of now Viettel boasts 320,000 kilometres of optic cables. If including foreign markets, the company now operates 500,000 kilometres, 12 times the earth’s circumference.

According to telecom experts, with more than 36,000 4G stations, Viettel’s infrastructure alone is enough for Vietnam to make the list of 20 top countries for 4G infrastructure. Viettel is employing a technology known as 4TX/4RX, far superior than the more popular 2TX/2RX. Currently less than 10% of carriers worldwide are utilising the 4TX/4RX technology.

Making 4G available to all with free services

Although Vietnam is among the last countries to roll out 4G, Viettel is determined to regain Vietnam’s position in the global telecoms rankings as well as advance the nations telecoms infrastructure to prepare for the country’s growth and particularly the fourth industrial revolution. Including Vietnam, Viettel has rolled out 4G services in seven countries where it is currently operating.

Viettel General Director Nguyen Manh Hung said the company has set a target that by 2020 every Vietnamese citizen will have a smartphone to access the internet. In order to make 4G easily available for all, Viettel will take measures to make 4G costs cheaper than 3G as well as offer free access to a number of websites providing information on essential issues such as law, agriculture and healthcare. Regarding hardware, Viettel is now offering 4G-capable devices at only VND2 million (US$88) and in the future will offer them for half the price at VND1 million (US$44) to bring 4G services to all people in Vietnam.