Postal services have been developed in Vietnam

Ha Noi, Jan. 1 (VNA) -- Viet Nam installed 800,000 telephones in 2000, raising the number nationwide to more than 3.3 million or about four telephones for each 100 people.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 new subscribers gained access to the telephone network each week of the year and about 85 per cent of communes now have access to the telephone. Other telecom services developed in the country include mobile-phone, paging, card-phone, and internet. The number of mobile-phone and internet subscribers especially are increasing.

Postal services have been developed with the expansion of an international mail network to about 70 countries and international remittance and express delivery services between Viet Nam and 51 foreign countries and territories introduced in all provinces.

Chairman of the Management Council of the Viet Nam Post and Telecommunications Corporation (VNPT), Do Trung Ta, says Viet Nam now ranks third in the world behind the Republic of Korea and China in telecom development.

He says Viet Nam is among the eight countries undergoing strong development in three key areas - development rate, technology renewal and coverage.

In addition to eight Intersat and Interspunit earth stations and three international switchboards, Viet Nam's telecom network is now hooked to the international undersea optical fibre cable SEA-ME-WE-3 (SMW-3) linking Europe Asia and the Amercas, the Thailand-Viet Nam-Hong Kong optical-fibre sea-cable TVH and the optical-fibre land cable linking China, Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Singapore.

Viet Nam now has 5,764 direct international channels enabling thousands simultaneous international calls. Sixty percent of these channels are through optical-fibre cable and 40 percent, satellite.

While increasing telecom capacity, Viet Nam has reduced international telecom charges by a yearly average of 10 percent and international volume has increased by a yearly 18 percent.

VNPT has agreements with 80 international partners for its mobile network.

The telecom sector has mobilized thousands of billions of VN dong from the World Bank, the Asia Development Bank and other financial organizations and cooperated with almost all the world's major telecom corporations to modernize its technology while its business cooperation contracts and joint ventures partnerships were raised about USD 1.1 billion in foreign investment.

VNPT has 22 factories and production enterprises.

Their combined industrial output has increase by 15 percent a year and meets 40 percent of domestic demand.

Their products are sold in Laos, Iraq, the Republic of Korea and France. Eight production units of the corporation have been granted ISO quality certificates.

VNPT General Director Mai Liem Truc says the corporation has completed a plan for market opening and intergration via a gradual transition from monopoly to open-door. The domestic open-door policy will be implemented immediately to improve service and promote competitiveness among Vietnamese enterprises so as to help Vietnamese commerce compete fully in an opening market.

Three telecom companies, the Army's Telecommunications and Electronics Company (Vietel), the Viet Nam Shipping Electronic Information Company (Vishipel), and the joint stock Sai Gon Post and Telcommunications Services (Saigon Postel), have so far been granted licenses.

Vietel provides telephone, fax and domestic data transmission services. Saigon Postel has signed a USD 230 million cooperation contract with a Republic of Korea partner to install the fourth mobile phone network in Viet Nam.

The network will be the first country's using CDMA technology. Viestel is permitted to provide services for accessing the Inmarsat setellite system.

The telecom sector has devised six major strategics to gain a firm foothold in the market in near future: Renew managerial structure; complete the policy programme and create an equal legal environment for postal telecom service development; renovate organization in production and business; open the door and liberate market force, promote consumption by applying a flexible price policy in accordance with people's purchasing capacity at the appropriate time, develop new services; mobilize domestic capital through joint venture and colaboration with other economic industries to invest in information infrastructure and attract foreign investment; train and rearrange the workforce and promote coordination with other agencies.--VNA