Vietnamese abandoning landline phone service in droves

TN News

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As many as 300,000 customers gave up their landlines in the first six months of this year, and analysts say the sector is facing imminent demise in the competition against cellular services.

During the first six months, there were just 13,700 new landline subscribers, unable to offset the number of existing customers who have abdandoned the service, leading to a 1.8 percent decline compared to the same period last year, news website VnExpress reported Sunday, citing figures from the General Statistics Office.

Landline users accounted for 11.2 percent of the 135.9 million telephone subscribers in Vietnam. The number of mobile phone subscribers, already around 50 percent higher than the population, rose 2.8 percent to more than 120 million. The report did not say how many mobile phone subscribers are really active users.

Previous estimates by the Ministry of Information and Communications placed the number of landline phone customers at only 10 million, equal to 7.5 percent of all phone users in the country, at the end of May.

VnExpress quoted an unidentified telecom expert as saying more landline subscribers will continue to leave the market. Even service providers now only focus on wireless services, hardly offering any perks and incentives to encourage the use of landline phones.

"Fewer users and smaller revenues make the providers less interested in the business. And it's also a no brainer that customers favor cellular sevices for their utility," he said.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Le Nam Thang said landline phones being replaced by mobile phones was an inevitable trend. "We can't force customers to use an outdated product while mobile services are getting cheaper every day."

However, Thang said the government will still spend billions of dong a year to keep landline services running since they are still used by many poor families and by the business community.

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