Vietnamese mobile providers slash roaming fees in bid to keep customers

By Ngan Anh   January 30, 2018 | 11:00 pm PT
Fees have fallen by up to 99.9 percent in some countries.

Vietnamese mobile providers are battling to retain customers by cutting the roaming fees they charge in other countries.

Vietnam’s biggest telco Viettel abolished roaming charges last year for subscribers using their phones in neighboring Cambodia and Laos, where it also has strong networks.

Last September, Viettel also announced it was cutting roaming fees by 99 percent in Japan, South Korea and Australia. Accordingly, the fee has fallen to VND2,200 (9 U.S. cents) from VND263,600 ($11.5) per megabyte.

Other major players have also been slashing their roaming fees since Vietnam decided to allow telecom firms to self-determine charges in mid-2017.

VinaPhone has cut its roaming charges by 99.7 percent, while offering reciprocal fees between Vietnam and eight other countries and territories, including the U.S., Japan and Singapore. With the cuts, subscribers now pay VND400 per megabyte instead of VND102,400.

Early this year, MobiFone announced it was slashing international call rates, roaming charges and message fees by 99.9 percent. International call rates from 19 countries and territories, including the U.S, Australia, France and Canada, to Vietnam are down to VND10,000 per minute, while a call to other countries now costs VND30,000 per minute.

MobiFone's roaming charges have fallen from VND510,976 to VND409 per megabyte in 19 countries and territories, including the U.S. 

A MobiFone representative said the sharp reductions have helped the firm compete with “Over-the-Top” services and social media.

Another telco boss told VnExpress that the move had hit profits, but it's something they have to accept if they don't want to lose customers to foreign companies or wifi services while they're overseas.

Viettel, Vinaphone and Mobifone account for 95 percent of Vietnam's mobile phone subscribers, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications.

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