Foreign over-the-top (OTT) service providers wishing to provide charged Internet-based calling and messaging services in Vietnam would be required to corporate with Vietnamese telecom businesses.
This is highlighted in a Ministry of Information and Communications-drafted circular on management, provision and use of Internet-based calling and texting services recently released for public comment.
Under the draft, foreign OTT service providers would be allowed to set up host servers in Vietnam once they enter into cooperation agreements with domestic telecom firms licensed to provide Internet-based voice calls and texting messages under Vietnam’s international commitments and the Telecommunications Law’s provisions on foreign investment. Meanwhile, those using overseas host servers must have trade agreements with licensed local partners.
Bkav Internet Security Corporation launched Btalk in April 2014, which allows users to make free phone calls and messages__Photo: VNA
However, if a company reaches one million registered users, it must locate at least one host server in Vietnam, regardless of whether it provide charged or free-of-charge services. Additionally, at least ten working days before providing the services, the company would inform the Ministry of Information and Communications of its name and address; contact number; domain name, web address and host server address; and the phone number or e-mail address used to send notices of confirmation to users.
OTT companies providing charged services must observe regulations on telecom service charge and quality management like traditional telecom services. At the same time, they may cooperate with fixed land and mobile land telecom businesses to provide OTT services.
As for businesses offering free-of-charge services, no license would be required but they would not be allowed to connect to infrastructure networks in Vietnam in order to enable call service users to make voice calls directly to domestic phone subscribers.
OTT telecom services are growing more common in Vietnam. There are an estimated 12 million Viber users, four million Line users and 10 million Zalo users in the country, which expects to have 30 million OTT app users by the year-end.-