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Government encourages competition in telecommunications

Ha Noi, Oct. 29 (VNA)- Post and Telecommunication Minister Do Trung Ta on Tuesday affirmed that increasing competition will not pose any threat to either the market's stability or low-income earners' accessibility to telecom services.

Ta was addressing the National Assembly's meeting for socio-economic development.

He said it was a major leap of the post and telecommunication industry to shift from monopoly to competition.

Before 1995, only the Viet Nam Post and Telecommunication Corporation was authorised to operate in Viet Nam. So far five more businesses are legally constructing infrastructural facilities and supplying relevant services. Six other bussinesses are licensed for network infrastructure facilities and 13 businesses for supplying telecommunication and Internet services. Five businesses are operating in mobile phone network installation and service supply.

Competition has led to huge cuts in service charges this year, offering attractive conditions for foreign investors as well as expanding the accessibility to the services for low-income earners.

Since April 1, charges on 12 telecommunication services have dropped between 10 and 40 percent to a level on a par with or even lower than the average for Southeast Asia, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication recently launched two inexpensive services for international calls through the Internet, Ta said.

As a result, the number of telephone subscribers has surged by over 1.3 million in the first nine months of this year, an all-time high. Of almost 7 million subscribers nationwide, 2.5 million own high-tech cell phones which are operatable almost all over the world, Ta added.

With 8.4 subscribers for every 100 people, the telecommunication industry has surpassed its target for 2005, Ta said.

Ta also said that the prices for postal and telecommunications services will decrease. This, he said, is a considerable cause of the service's growth rate of 7 percent for this year compared to the 7.2-7.3 percent of the GDP growth rate.

The introduction of the Internet into schools is also a prominent achievement of the ministry. With the reduction of the price by ten times and the provision of equipment to schools, 45 out of the country's 61 provinces and cities are Internet capable and the rest are expected to be so by the end of this year.

Minister Ta cited the figure of 2.5 million internet users in Vietnam since the launch of the service in December 1997 as an evidence of its rapid development.

He also expressed optimism on the nation's ability to bring the software industry into every social and economic field in Vietnam in 2004 - (03/11/2003)

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