Vietnam plans to bring the number of 2G subscribers to under 5 percent by 2022 so that it can stop this service and push the development of higher-technology cellular networks.
There are 24 million 2G subscribers in the country, or 18.5 percent of total, and the Ministry of Information and Communications aims to bring the figure down to 5-7 million, or around 5 percent by early 2022 towards stopping the 2G service by then.
Closing 2G will leave more bandwidth for 3G, 4G and the upcoming 5G network and help accelerate the establishment of a digital economy, the ministry said.
It is working to boost the sales of low-cost smartphones so more people will be familiar with 3G and higher networks, it added
Among 24 million 2G subscribers, 12.4 million are using feature phones. Hoang Minh Cuong, head of the telecommunications department under the ministry, said these are the users that telecom operators need to help transition to smartphones.
The number of 2G subscribers has dropped by 6 million since last year, showing that the goal to bring the ratio to under 5 percent is possible, he added.
The telecommunications department plans to lower the rates of regular phone calls, which will reduce their revenues to telecom operators and urge them to rely more on data calls.
It also plans to require all smartphones produced or imported into Vietnam to support 3G network or higher.
There are 630,000 2G subscribers age 70 or more, and some say this group of people lack the tech savvy needed to use smartphones.
However, Cuong said Vietnamese companies were capable of making 4G feature phones for around VND600,000, and these would serve this user group.