Satellite internet in Vietnam: small and expensive
in your post VnExpress Since the internet is vulnerable in Vietnam, many readers suggest using satellite internet to avoid unstable connections due to reliance on underwater fiber optic cables. “Network operators should work together to surf the satellite internet like Elon Musk, so as not to fear cable damage. If Starlink comes to Vietnam, I’ll sign up to try it too,” commented reader Tran Thang.
This is also one of the solutions suggested by Mr. Vu The Binh, General Secretary of the Vietnam Internet Association, when asked about steps to maintain a stable connection. “From a technological point of view, the use of satellite wireless Internet services such as Starlink can be considered based on Vietnam’s national interests and laws and regulations to diversify connections. International Internet for different user groups,” he said.
In fact, this form of connection has been researched and implemented by a number of network operators and has caught the attention of regulators. However, in Vietnam, VNPT is the only organization with a satellite communications network. This form of communication uses VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) satellite stations with antenna diameters of 1.2 m to 3 m and the Vinasat broadband satellite communication system to provide IP telecommunications services.
On its website, the operator states that it offers a VSAT-IP service that offers satellite Internet access with a minimum speed of 384 Kbps and costs from 1.6 to 5.25 million VND per month.
In addition to subscribing to a subscription plan, users must purchase a network-connected device installed outside the home in order to use it. The Vinasat-1 satellite began operations in June 2008 and is now at full capacity after being augmented by Vinasat-2 in 2012.
In April 2021, Viettel will also offer a satellite internet pilot service that will use a LEO (Low Orbit Satellite) beam to increase cellular network coverage. Mister. At that time, Le Ba Tan, deputy general manager of Viettel Network Corporation, estimated that satellite internet is a method used in many countries to extend coverage in remote areas such as mountainous areas or islands.
LEO Internet transmission solutions have the advantages of satellite construction and low deployment costs. With short-haul operation of 800 to 1600 km, the provided Internet offers high speed, low latency and higher throughput. The disadvantage of this type of satellite is that its life cycle is short, only 5-7 years, and the user has to buy a transceiver at a high cost.
Two years ago, users in Vietnam were also outraged when billionaire Elon Musk’s satellite Internet service Starlink went online in Vietnam. The service’s website then broadcasts the message “set a goal to cover your territory by 2022,” leading many to expect a new form of communication soon.
However, the website has removed the above message. When searching for Vietnam on the Starlink coverage map, the service shows “no information yet” on the operational data. While in several markets like the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, the estimated launch time is 2023.
Highly valuing the potential of this form of internet connection, the Ministry of Information and Communications added a set of regulations for satellite telecommunications services when revising the Telecoms Act in late 2022. These rules are designed to ensure the safe and reliable operation of satellite internet in Vietnam while also providing the basis for the future development of this service.
Problem with satellite internet
At the joint decision-making session to solve the problem of underwater fiber optic cables on the afternoon of February 10, when asked about satellite Internet, telecom director Nguyen Hong Thang said the first problem was price.
At present, Vietnamese users with a fixed broadband Internet connection have to spend less than VND 200,000 for a bandwidth of over 100 Mbit/s, free for the terminal. Meanwhile, services like Starlink require a device fee of US$599 (VND14 million), plus a subscription fee of US$99 (VND2.3 million) per month, which is 10 times the internet cost in Vietnam. . Likewise, the VNPT satellite service has the lowest price at 1.6 million VND for a monthly subscription.
If you are not concerned about price, satellite internet in Vietnam also faces implementation challenges, as well as quality and security requirements. When making the satellite internet proposal, Mr Le Ba Tan said it would be difficult for Vietnamese companies to have enough capacity to deploy even a low-orbit satellite cluster. Instead, telecom operators must use and rely on satellite systems from foreign companies.
Meanwhile, overseas services like Starlink are classified as cross-border services and must comply with the provisions of the Telecoms Act. “This is a conditional deal, so there are very strict conditions here. This is necessary both to protect the domestic market and to ensure information security,” said the head of telecommunications.
Previously, Ms. Phan Thanh Huyen of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Information and Communications recognized satellite services with special characteristics that have a very long range. Regions, are allowed to operate and provide services without a technical and commercial presence in the host country.
With increasingly advanced technology, the provision of satellite services has become easier, there are many data collection services, such as images, high-speed broadband. This, according to Mrs Huyen, has many potential risks, such as: B. That Vietnamese user data is sent directly abroad and the risk of being illegally collected and used by foreign companies; risk of data loss affecting the interests of users; Risk of network insecurity and information security.
If they want coverage in Vietnam, satellite internet projects like Elon Musk must have commercial agreements with Vietnamese companies authorized to provide telecommunications services via satellite transmission. In addition, the revised bill also adds provisions for the construction of satellite access points in Vietnam.
As of mid-2022, Starlink will have around 3,500 satellites in operation, providing internet to around 500,000 users in 37 countries.
repay VnExpressAnalyst Marvin Tan of research and consultancy firm Telegeography estimates that current satellite links cannot replace fiber optic cables in Vietnam: “They are often used to connect to the internet in remote and hard-to-reach places. , but the capacity is insufficient to replace subsea and terrestrial fiber optic cables,” Tan said.