Wired broadband in Vietnam has grown over one thousand percent since 2005. While the country has made tremendous achievements in broadband, there are challenges arising from its rapid growth. This report identifies the key factors that have defined Vietnam's broadband trajectory and the broadband challenges of the future.
Solid economic growth in Vietnam has coincided with increased broadband usage. Liberalization of the telecommunications sector has led to growing competition with 11 enterprises providing infrastructure. Service providers have developed modern IP-based networks with extensive fiber optic backbones. Incomes have risen so that more people can afford broadband. This in turn has created a virtuous circle with explosive demand creating a larger market, resulting in economies of scale and lower prices. Another factor driving fixed broadband growth is that Vietnam was a latecomer to the IMT-2000 WCMDA mobile broadband technology. Major mobile operators did not launch their networks until 2009 with around 15 percent of mobile subscribers having WCDMA capability towards the end of 2010.
Despite these successes, Vietnam faces challenges broadening broadband access, particularly in rural areas where some 70 percent of the population resides. Young people in urban areas “live” with high-speed Internet access; however, less than one percent of rural households had any type of Internet access in 2008.
This case study is one of an initial series of seven that will contribute to the Broadband Strategies Toolkit, an online resource for policy-makers and regulators, especially in developing countries. The case studies are generously funded by the Korean Trust Fund (KTF) on Information and Communications for Development (IC4D). The KTF is a partnership between the government of the Republic of Korea and the World Bank Group whose purpose is to advance the ICT4D agenda to contribute to growth and reduce poverty in developing countries.