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Vietnam's Undersea Internet Cables Break on Average 10 Times Annually, Experts Say

Vietnam’s internet is inconsistent, but very affordable when compared with regional peers, according to experts at the recent Vietnam Internet Day 2021 conference.

Held a few weeks ago, the conference was co-organized by telecom firms and the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority under the Ministry of Information and Communications. Experts presented many important data points reflecting local internet access and how it performs compared to other nations.

Hoàng Đức Dũng, a representative from Viettel Networks, shared that, in the last five years, Vietnam’s submarine cables have ruptured on average 10 times annually. Each break takes around a month to fix, though on some occasions, when one connection is fixed, another is damaged.

Dũng added that Vietnam currently has only seven undersea cables handling international traffic, one of the lowest numbers in the region, compared to Thailand (10), Malaysia (22), and Singapore (30). This handful of global connections means that there are fewer options to fall back on when one goes out of service.

Speed-wise, internet services in Vietnam also leave much to be desired. Data from Ookla shows that the country’s download speed is just over 84MB per second, ranking No. 58 of 181 countries. For mobile internet, the figure is 78.34MB per second.

According to Nguyễn Phong Nhã, deputy head of the telecom authority, the majority of broadband subscriptions in Vietnam (47.17%) is in the 30–50MB per second range. The 50–100MB per second stratum accounts for 35.21%, and 16.86% of subscriptions have speeds of over 100MB per second. A small percentage of users have speeds slower than 30MB per second.

Most Vietnamese phone owners have switched to 4G (89.42%), while 10.05% still use 3G. 5G amounts to less than 1% of users.

A major advantage of the internet in Vietnam, however, is its low price. According to a report published last November, the country ranks at No. 6 among the world’s nations with cheapest internet costs, as users only pay on average US$10.70 a month. Most of the top ten are in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

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