Viettel, VNPT accused of price-fixing

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Vietnam's telecom giants Viettel and VNPT have been accused of fixing leasing prices for wireless facilities to hurt small mobile networks that still depend on the infrastructure of others.

Hanoi Telecom, the operator of Vietnamobile network, filed a complaint to the government last week, saying it has been charged unreasonably high prices for using Viettel's and VNPT's transmission facilities, local media reported.

In particular, Hanoi Telecom said state-owned VNPT has increased the rent of base transceiver stations by an average of 215 percent compared to the rates at end of last year.

An unidentified executive of the company told news website VnExpress that the government has encouraged wireless carriers to share their infrastructure to maximize the use of existing resources. However, if rentals are raised significantly, Vietnamobile will need to develop its own facilities.

"Now we have to pay VND600 million for one single station, and we need to rent hundreds. That translates to an excessive amount of money, enough for us to build a new station for our own," the executive said.

A VNPT official argued that his company is not the only service provider, suggesting that Hanoi Telecom look for another partner if it could not accept the new prices, which he claimed have been raised due to increased operational costs.

VNPT, or Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group, is the operator of MobiFone and Vinaphone. Together with military-run Viettel, it accounts for most of the telecom transmission facilities in Vietnam now.

The Ministry of Information and Communications has ordered the two companies to explain their pricing policies to see whether there has been any price fixing going on.

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