Elizabete Fong, CEO of Vietnamobile, talked with Viet Nam News about the opportunities and challenges in the local mobile telecoms market during her past three years leading Vietnamobile.
After three years of operation in Viet Nam, what interests you the most about the domestic telecoms market?
In a highly competitive market such as Viet Nam, to survive and thrive takes effort and innovation. Every day at Vietnamobile is a day of ‘battling' to enrich our products and services and improve customer services and network quality to win over customers. Hutchison's culture hones us with an ambition that success in business is a must. It is the continuous evolvement and ambition that drives the Vietnamobile workforce who is filled with energy, innovation and customer-first commitment. Nonetheless, in this ferociously competitive market, as a new network operator, we are constantly facing internal and external challenges. For example, current interconnection fees between dominant operators and non- dominant players is only 10 per cent whereas in other international markets, the differential is at least 30 per cent. A wider differential would enable new operators to offer more economic ways for customers to call offnet to other operator communities. This way, we could help strengthen the mobile communications industry.
Some believe that in 2012, network operator earnings will see very slim growth, or even decline. Has Vietnamobile achieved its targets?
I think mobile communication will keep increasing, and if network operators are able to understand and cater to such needs, earnings will be rewarding. Voice services for example have stabilised, as tariff levels have been quite low. However, the demand for data, content services, international calls and SMSs is still increasing. Capitalising on growing data popularity, toward the end of 2011, Vietnamobile upgraded its service to 3G offering Viet Nam's fastest speed at 21.6Mbps. We note that data-usage consumers are still very sensitive towards data bill surprises, so we have designed over (9) data packages from daily, weekly to monthly, as low as VND10,000/month. After three years in operation, Vietnamobile has consistently achieved good growth rates, and we have also set a high target for 2012. Currently number four in the market with more than 10 million subscribers, we have to continue developing our business to become a strong player.
Merger and dissolution may be the way to go for the mobile telecoms market in 2012. Do you believe that the achievements of Vietnamobile after three years are enough to affirm its position?
With a strong foothold and development potential, Vietnamobile is confident in meeting the needs of its fast growing clientele. I believe that unparalleled network quality and a smart mobile communication solution meeting customer needs at affordable prices in a philosophy of bringing "mobiles to everyone" will help Vietnamobile to keep building a solid place in the heart of the community.
For the last three years, the telecoms market has witnessed many ups and downs. What are the secrets to Vietnamobile's success and what are its ambitions?
In Viet Nam, the law of do-or-die has become even more punishing than ever. I believe Vietnamobile has achieved initial success thanks to putting its customers at the centre of every creation. Most important of all is the dedication, professionalism and teamwork spirit of its staff and valuable support from its stakeholders.
At Vietnamobile, we are lucky to have strategic visions combined with rich international experience from the leading Hutchison network and local know-how from the Ha Noi Telecom, which have helped us create a different approach to the market. I firmly believe that this is a major factor contributing to the current stable position of Vietnamobile in the market.
Our goal is to continue optimising our services at best value prices and hope that we will soon become the 3rd best operator in Viet Nam.
Vietnamobile is committed to constantly improving quality, introducing preferrable and saving service packages as well as expanding high-speed 3G coverage to bring further benefits to customers. — VNS