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Vietnam pulls the plug on new 2G phones

Updated: 10:18, 26/02/2024
New phones that only support 2G will not be able to connect to the country’s mobile network from March 1, according to the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority.

A counterfeit Nokia 2G phone displaying a fake 4G signal icon found in September 2023. 

The agency, which operates under the Ministry of Information and Communications, said the only exceptions would be phones on the list of certified devices published by the ministry.

This list features around 4,000 2G devices, most of them produced years ago since imports of 2G-only phones were banned in July 2021.

They will be able to connect normally until the country’s 2G network is shut down this September.

This is the next step in the road map to phase out 2G technology, promote smart phones, and ensure that devices operate on safe public telecommunications networks.

It could help prevent the smuggling of 2G devices, which are still being sold in Vietnam despite the import ban, telecommunications experts said.

The devices cost only a few hundred thousand dong and are mainly used by those who cannot afford smartphones and older people and children who only need to call and text.

In recent times lots of fake Nokia feature phones have been sold in the market. These 2G devices are modified to display fake 4G signal icons.

Experts said consumers should be cautious now since sellers of counterfeit phones would try to get rid of their remaining stocks before March, when they are no longer able to connect to the network.

A spokesperson for mobile service provider Viettel Telecom said the company would help low-income consumers buy 4G phones that serve their basic needs for just VND290,000 (US$11.76).

As of mid-2023 Vietnam had over 120 million mobile phone subscribers, 22 million of whom used the 2G network.

However, a significant portion of the latter also have smartphones and use 2G phones as secondary devices.

The shutdown of the 2G network will help free up bandwidth for newer network technologies.

Since the end of 2022 some service providers such as Viettel, Vinaphone and MobiFone have been shutting down 2G and 3G networks in areas with low demand.

Vietnam's 4G coverage stands at 99.8%, higher than the average of 99.4% for developed countries.

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