Vietnamese telco, Viettel, has announced that it will launch 5G commercial services in June this year.
Viettel will use its own network equipment and components, essentially becoming the sixth 5G network equipment provider after Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE.
Viettel successfully conducted its first 5G video call over its test network over the weekend and confirmed that it will begin providing commercial 5G services in June.
Viettel is the biggest mobile network provider in Vietnam. It also has a large international footprint, offering services in a swathe of countries, including neighbouring Laos and Cambodia and further afield in Haiti, Mozambique, East Timor, Cameroon, Peru, Burundi, Tanzania and Myanmar.
While none of its overseas markets (with the possible exception of Myanmar) are yet ready to launch 5G mobile network services, it does raise the possibility that Viettel could opt to use its own network components in its overseas telecoms empire, creating a sizable market for its products and equipment.
Back in Vietnam, Viettel says that it will make its next generation 5G network services available to both consumer and enterprise customers, as Vietnamese businesses look to accelerate their own digitalisation programmes.
"5G is significant infrastructure for the digital economy and digital society, and mastering 5G equipment is of strategic significance for the country," Vietnamese news site, VNExpress, quoted the country’s Ministry of Information and Communications as saying.
Vietnam will be among the first countries in Southeast Asia to launch 5G, with Malaysia and Singapore also expected to ramp up their 5G initiatives in 2020.
In June last year, Vietnamese tech firm, Vingroup, signed a partnership with Qualcomm and Fujitsu to manufacture 5G compatible smartphone handsets in the country.