Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia, with a population of 98 million. Its economy has developed rapidly in recent years, with an annual growth rate of more than 6%. The number of FTTH users in Vietnam is about 16.8 million, and the FTTH penetration rate exceeds 60%. The mainstream bandwidth in the country was 80–100 Mbps in 2021.
Founded in 2004, Viettel is the largest telecom and mobile operator in Vietnam. With practical and efficient network technology planning, Viettel is rapidly developing its telecom services around the country. It started large-scale GPON deployment in 2014 and became Vietnam's largest FTTH operator in just a few years. Viettel had more than 7 million FTTH users in 2021, accounting for 43% of the market.
Viettel provides FTTH users with a variety of network packages, ranging from entry-level 50 Mbps to high-speed 250 Mbps to meet the needs of different user groups. However, due to the rapid development of FTTH and market saturation, Viettel urgently needs to find new service growth points to increase its revenue.
Weakness of Wi-Fi Coverage
Most of the residential buildings in Vietnam are stand-alone buildings with a long and narrow structure, usually 2–3 stories, a large area and many rooms. It is difficult for a single common Wi-Fi CPE to achieve whole-home Wi-Fi coverage. Despite the increasing FTTH bandwidth, users still have a poor Wi-Fi experience. Some users configure different Wi-Fi APs via network cables, but it is inconvenient to commission and maintain them, and the configuration is complex.
In addition, Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world, with a deep and rich coffee culture and a extremely high density of cafes. The cafes there usually have a large area and high population density, which pose high requirements for the coverage, stability and concurrency ratio of Wi-Fi networks.
In this context, Viettel decided to adopt the Mesh Wi-Fi intelligent networking solution and the Cloud Wi-Fi management platform to launch new services, while solving the problem of home Wi-Fi coverage, so as to provide users with a seamless Internet experience. The Cloud Wi-Fi management platform can also provide home Wi-Fi network management and fault diagnosis, offer users professional O&M guarantee and after-sales services, and thus enhance user experience.
Intelligent Mesh Networking + Cloud Wi-Fi Solution
The optical line terminals (OLTs) and optical network units (ONUs) deployed in Viettel's existing networks are mainly supplied by mainstream vendors such as ZTE, and Viettel has started large-scale deployment of dual-band Wi-Fi 5 ONUs. ZTE recommended that Viettel adopt the ONU+AP Mesh networking solution, which only needs to purchase a separate Mesh AP and work with the dual-band Wi-Fi 5 ONUs to realize intelligent mesh networking of the whole home. To meet the requirements of Viettel, ZTE provided a Mesh AP product that could leverage its self-developed Mesh Wi-Fi solution and work with commercial ONUs to implement Mesh networking. Also, ZTE provided Viettel with a customized Cloud Wi-Fi management platform that could manage and upgrade the Mesh APs remotely and locate and diagnose home network faults.
ZTE's Mesh Wi-Fi solution and Cloud Wi-Fi management platform helped Viettel increase service revenue while reducing CAPEX and OPEX.
—Low investment: The ONU+AP Mesh networking solution reduces the investment of one AP compared with the ad hoc networking formed by APs. When deploying Mesh services in its existing network, Viettel only needs to add Mesh AP(s) under ONU to realize Mesh networking without replacing the existing ONU. Compared with the AP ad hoc networking, the ONU+AP Mesh networking solution reduces the equipment deployment cost by 33%.
—Excellent signal coverage: The ONU+AP Mesh networking solution supports "1+1" or "1+N" application scenarios. It can flexibly select the number and connection mode of APs according to different application scenarios so that smart networking can cover every corner of the user's home, thus achieving whole-home Wi-Fi coverage and improving user satisfaction.
—Easy O&M management: The Cloud Wi-Fi management platform customized by ZTE for Viettel supports remote management and fault diagnosis of ONUs and Mesh APs. Some faults can be remotely fixed, helping Viettel reduce truck rolls and O&M costs.
Viettel successfully put the Mesh Wi-Fi solution into commercial use, launched Home Wi-Fi service, and established the Super Net brand at the end of 2019 (Fig. 1). It has become the first operator in Vietnam to promote and commercialize Mesh Wi-Fi networking services.
Creating a New Digital Life Experience
After Viettel launched its Home Wi-Fi service in Vietnam, the service ignited the market and was widely favored by users. Vietnam has also became the country with the most extensive commercial use of Mesh Wi-Fi services in Southeast Asia.
The Mesh Wi-Fi solution supports flexible deployment. It can be used not only for homes with large areas and multiple rooms, but also for sidewalk cafes and small restaurants that can be found everywhere on the street. With the promotion and popularization of the Mesh package "Super Net" as a basic service of fixed-line broadband packages, Viettel has gradually increased its subscriber base. By the end of December 2021, the number of Viettel's Mesh Wi-Fi subscribers had exceeded 200,000, and the average revenue per user (ARPU) value of its fixed-line broadband had increased accordingly. According to CEO of Viettel, the Mesh package "Super Net" is a successful sub-project that bolsters its revenue in recent years.
As a leading telecommunications operator in Vietnam, Viettel plays a significant role in Vietnam's fixed-line broadband market. Viettel will continue to work with ZTE to strengthen cooperation in new technologies and solutions and bring more and more wonderful digital life experiences to the Vietnamese people.