Vietnam’s area code change spooks businesses

By Truong Son, Thanh Nien News

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Vietnam’s area code change spooks businesses
Businesses are desperately scrambling to prepare for an abrupt plan that looks to change all of Vietnam's telephone area codes on March 1.
“Countless number of enterprises will have to change their marketing documents, profiles, leaflets, websites, name cards, envelops and all products that feature their phone number,” Nguyen Minh Trung, spokesperson of FPT Information System that provides corporate information solutions, said.
“My company will also have to print new documents and make many changes. This plan was introduced on very short notice,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Information and Communications, telephone numbers will change in 59 of Vietnam's 63 cities and provinces.
Some cities and provinces will see drastic changes. Da Nang's dialing code will go from 511 to 236, Hai Phong from 31 to 225 and Can Tho from 710 to 292.
Only four provinces will maintain their codes, namely: Hoa Binh (218), Ha Giang (219), Vinh Phuc (211) and Phu Tho (210).
The Ministry of Information and Communications said it changed the area codes to ensure that every number in the country is 11 digits.
Currently, area codes vary from 1-3 digits while phone numbers have 7 or 8 digits.
“A lack of unified length in area and phone numbers can easily cause dialing errors and make numbers harder to remember,” the ministry said in a release.
The ministry also decided to cut a digit from cell phone numbers to ensure they are 11 digits, without announcing a specific deadline for the change.
Currently, cell phone numbers may have 10 or 11 digits.
Costly change
A representative from the ministry's telecommunications department was quoted by Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper as saying Saturday that an across-the-board change would not take place immediately on March 1.
The department would work with telecoms companies to hammer out a feasible plan for the changes. Relevant agencies and telcos would announce when exactly it would be implemented two months in advance, that representative said.
But this has apparently failed to allay concerns.
Experts said that a phone code change in 59 cities and provinces won't just cause problems for nearly seven million landline subscribers, but also affect communication on a national and international scale.
The abrupt announcement made just before Tet (Vietnam’s Lunar New Year), which falls on February 19, will cause more damages.
Perhaps most shockingly, the country's major telecom firms only learned of the new regulation through the press.
Bui Quoc Viet, spokesman of Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group, said he only received official notification about he plan last week.
Do Minh Phuong, director of Viettel Telecom, said his company has yet to receive any official notification about the change in area codes.
Meanwhile, local businesses have complained about relevant costs, especially while they are suffering from the global economic downturn.
Tran Anh Dung, owner of a maritime logistics company, was very surprised to hear about the calling code change.
“I have offices in Hanoi, Hai Phong, Da Nang and HCMC with hundreds of partners. We will have to update our phone numbers and the numbers of our partners as well,” he said.
He said his company just printed a large number of calendars with phone numbers and may have to dump them to print new ones.
“But the most important thing is that our partners abroad, who do not contact us frequently, may find it impossible to get in touch,” he said.
Nguyen Minh Hung of Mai Linh Group said the company supplies transport services in 53 cities and provinces would suffer great damages from the area code change.
Ta Huu Chien, chairman of SunVina Travel JSC, was concerned about the lack of advanced notice.
“If the change is truly necessary, there must be technical support like maintaining the current codes for some period while people get accustomed to the changes.”
 
CITY/ PROVINCE
CURRENT CODE
NEW CODE

Quang Ninh

33

203

Bac Giang

240

204

Lang Son

25

205

Cao Bang

26

206

Tuyen Quang

27

207

Thai Nguyen

280

208

Bac Can

281

209

Phu Tho

210

Unchanged

Vinh Phuc

211

Unchanged

Son La

22

212

Lai Chau

231

213

Lao Cai

20

214

Dien Bien

230

215

Yen Bai

29

216

Hoa Binh

218

Unchanged

Ha Giang

219

Unchanged

Hai Duong

320

220

Hung Yen

321

221

Bac Ninh

241

222

Hai Phong

31

225

Ha Nam

351

226

Thai Binh

36

227

Nam Dinh

350

228

Ninh Binh

30

229

Quang Binh

52

232

Quang Tri

53

233

Thua Thien Hue

54

234

Quang Nam

510

235

Da Nang

511

236

Thanh Hoa

37

237

Nghe An

38

238

Ha Tinh

39

239

Hanoi

4

24

Dong Nai

61

251

Binh Thuan

62

252

Ba Ria Vung Tau

64

254

Quang Ngai

55

255

Binh Dinh

56

256

Phu Yen

57

257

Khanh Hoa

58

258

Ninh Thuan

68

259

Kon Tum

60

260

Dak Nong

501

261

Dak Lak

500

262

Lam Dong

63

263

Gia Lai

59

269

Vinh Long

70

270

Binh Phuoc

651

271

Long An

72

272

Tien Giang

73

273

Binh Duong

650

274

Ben Tre

75

275

Tay Nin

66

276

Dong Thap

67

277

Ho Chi Minh City

8

28

Ca Mau

780

290

Bac Lieu

781

291

Can Tho

710

292

Hau Giang

711

293

Tra Vinh

74

294

An Giang

76

296

Kien Giang

77

297

Soc Trang

79

299

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