Viettel is the biggest integrated telecom operator in Vietnam. Driven by its ambition to become a globally top-tier full-service carrier that spans mobile, fixed and media services, Viettel aggressively seeks to attract new users and launch new services domestically while also expanding the overseas market through its international arm, Viettel Global. Viettel now has operations in nine countries with a combined population of over 175 million. In countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Mozambique, Viettel is already a market leader.
Facing Fierce Competition
At the beginning of 2016, the Vietnamese Prime Minister approved a broadband initiative mandating that the broadband penetration in Vietnam reach at least 40% by 2020. Amid cut-throat competition in Vietnam's fast growing broadband market, mainstream wireline operators are looking for transformation, using the PON technology to offer network access, IPTV, and CATV services.
As early as 2014, Viettel started large-scale GPON FTTH construction and developed IPTV and three-screen (TV, computer and mobile phone OTT) services. Now Viettel has about 1.2 million FTTH users, 600,000 AON users and more than 500,000 DSL users. The core driver of wired broadband is video business. As video evolves from SD to HD to 4K and 8K, the need for broadband construction keeps rising. Therefore, Viettel needs to lay a good foundation for broadband networks and improve network performance. It also needs to develop video business, improve user experience, continue to reduce Capex and Opex, and gain advantages in the fierce market competition.
Improving Customer Experience
Viettel adheres to the business philosophy of "putting customers at the center to pursue harmonious and sustainable development". Accordingly, its brand building is centered around respecting, serving, and listening to customers. Network service quality is directly related to customer satisfaction. In 2015, Viettel pinpointed the top three issues with its network quality. First, the complaint rate of PON and AON users was too high. Second, customer experience management was difficult because Viettel did not have a complete solution to monitor service quality. Third, home Wi-Fi coverage was unsatisfactory. Many households in Vietnam live in independent two- to four-storey dwellings, and it is hard to blanket the entire building with Wi-Fi.
The biggest advantage of Viettel lies in the mobile sector, where the operator accounts for 46% of the domestic market. Viettel was thinking of a way to tap its strength in mobile services to develop fixed-line services through network convergence. The strategy Viettel came up with was offering diverse mobile-fixed combo packages to attract users and addressing the existing network issues to boost user experience. After a meticulous selection process, Viettel chose ZTE as a partner to help it grow broadband business.
To quickly expand user base and improve customer satisfaction, Viettel developed a range of mobile-fixed combo broadband service packages that could meet different user demands. The packages for low-end users focused on cost-effectiveness to attract new customers and retain old customers. Those for mid- and high-end users offered quality services and often included family-level bundles to boost user loyalty and increase upselling. To help Viettel deliver these differentiated home broadband services, ZTE customized multiple ONUs. The ONUs for low-end users provide FE ports at the user side to allow for basic services including internet access and SD video. The ONUs for mid-end users have GE ports plus VoIP ports to enable HD and 4K video services. Those for high-end users offer dual-band gigabit Wi-Fi functionality as well as GE and VoIP ports to deliver high-bandwidth, HD and 4K video services.
To enhance user experience, Viettel set up a network KPI monitoring mechanism to monitor and evaluate the quality of different vendors' devices in the existing network. ZTE ONUs were always at the forefront in quality assessment. Viettel also introduced a DPI probe-based monitoring system to analyze data and provide multi-layer monitoring for service-level applications such as video, gaming, email, internet access and voice. ZTE ONUs contain customized DPI software to support the DPI probe-based monitoring system, allowing Viettel to improve customer experience through the visual quality of experience (QoE) management system while reducing Opex.
To solve the Wi-Fi coverage issue in the Vietnamese market, ZTE provided Viettel with its NetSphere solution that uses a home gateway and multiple APs to set up a home Wi-Fi network. The home gateway and APs are customized to vastly expand the Wi-Fi range. With its advanced technologies such as auto configuration, mesh networking, intelligent roaming and efficient O&M, NetSphere can bring benefits that go beyond resolving difficulties in extending in-home Wi-Fi coverage. It can also raise service quality, enhance user experience, upgrade home network services, and support remote and local management. Thanks to the solution, Viettel's Capex and Opex can be significantly reduced.
Through the cooperation with ZTE, Viettel has built a stable and efficient network that can reduce Capex and Opex and strengthen its position in Vietnam's fixed network market. Viettel has grown its GPON user base to 4.6 million, accounting for about 50% of Vietnam's GPON market. The bandwidth and service quality of its GPON network have also risen markedly, offering a great support for the deployment and evolution of IPTV services. Viettel is currently collaborating with ZTE in its subsidiaries in the hopes of promoting Vietnam's broadband development and deployment models and bringing its successful experience in Vietnam to more markets to achieve greater success.
Viettel, Vietnam's broadband market, HD and 4K video, three-screen services, GPON