|The Viet Nam Automobile Transportation Association petitioned the Ministry of Transport to undo the recent increase in the 3G internet service fee.— File Photo
HA NOI (VNS) — The Viet Nam Automobile Transportation Association petitioned the Ministry of Transport to undo the recent increase in the 3G internet service fee.
The association said that the hike put thousands of bus and truck drivers— who are required to use 3G to record their operations but cannot afford the higher fees –at risk of having their licences revoked.
Viet Nam's three largest mobile providers, MobiFone, VinaPhone and Viettel, bumped up their 3G fee by 40 per cent on October 16.
The ostensible purpose of the change, which brought the fee from VND50,000 (US$2.5) to VND70,000 ($3.5), was to upgrade the quality of mobile networks.
Under new regulations, transport companies must install black boxes on buses and container trucks to record the vehicles' operations. The boxes use mobile SIM cards to transmit data about speed and driving practices to the ministry.
Transport companies are required to pay for 3G internet services to maintain the operation of the equipment, so the increased fee causes difficulties for them.
Nguyen Van Thanh, chairman of the association, said that most transport firms' mobile data packages cost VND10,000-50,000. But after the price hike, many SIMs ran out of money and the black boxes consequently stopped operating.
As a result, transport firms lost control over their vehicles, meaning drivers could be fined VND2 million ($84) or have their driving licences revoked if they were caught by the traffic police.
Nguyen Quoc Cuong, manager of Ha Noi based-Duong Vet Transport Company, said that his company had to pay VND6 million ($282) per month to operate 30 black boxes installed on trucks.
"It's ridiculous to increase the fee without informing customers," Cuong said. "With the new fee, we will have to pay double to use our black boxes. If we don't pay, we'll be fined. This is totally unreasonable."
The association asked the ministry and traffic police to stop fining buses and trucks with inoperative black boxes and required Viettel to adjust the calculation of the fee.
After local media questioned why the mobile operators had increased their service fee at the same time – violating competition law –Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to promptly inspect the decision.
The Deputy PM required the ministry to report the results of the inspection to the Government.
Tran Anh Son, vice head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Competition Management Administration, said at a conference last week that if the three mobile providers were found to have violated the law, they would face fines up to 10 per cent of last year's turnover.
Last year, Viettel reported turnover of VND24 trillion ($1.1 billion) while VinaPhone and MobiFone made 8.5 trillion ($399 million).
In late April, the 3G fee was raised by 30 per cent.—VNS