Vietnam authorities continue probe into dubious 3G fee hike

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Vietnamese authorities will not conclude their investigations into a dubious hike in 3G tariffs by three local largest telcos until next January, Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon (Saigon Times) Online reported Sunday.

Nguyen Phuong Nam, deputy chief of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Vietnam Competition Authority, made the announcement to the press on the sidelines of a conference on consumer protection activities organized in Ho Chi Minh City over the weekend.

A few days earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai ordered the ministry to publish its findings on the price adjustments made by VinaPhone, MobiFone and Viettel in October. The hike raised public suspicions of collusion.

According to Nam, "basic information" about the department's findings will be released at a meeting organized by the ministry this month.

The department will then hold a press conference in early January to announce their plans to punish the businesses if wrongdoings are found.

He said the ministry ordered the case to be handled in accordance with the Vietnamese Law on Competition.

Tran Anh Son, deputy chief of the Vietnam Competition Authority, previously said that if found in violation, the 3G suppliers, which hold 97.3 percent of the market share, will submit 10 percent of their sales from the previous fiscal year in fines.

On October 16, the telcos increased their tariffs from VND50,000 to VND70,000 a month, under Ministry of Information and Communication approval, saying that they had to increase their fees, since 3G tariffs in Vietnam were among the world's lowest.


They also said that without the hike, in the long term, they could not make profits for further capital expenditures.

However, experts said as dominant suppliers, the companies violated the law by increasing their fees at the same time.

The law, moreover, does not allow dominant companies to increase their prices by more than 5 percent each hike, but some of the 3G packages offered by the companies saw a rise of 40 percent since the pervious increase, they said.

According to the Ministry of Information and Telecommunication, Vietnam now has around 20 million 3G subscribers.

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