Transport companies may receive lower 3G pricing

Friday, Nov 01, 2013 11:35

The recent hikes have forced many transport firms, unable to afford the new fees, to switch off or remove black boxes from their vehicles, prompting fines from the MOT.— Photo xahoi

HA NOI (Biz Hub) —Transport companies may see preferential 3G fees before November 30, according to Transport Department Director Khuat Viet Hung.

The announcement comes amid a heated debate on recent price increases for 3G used by tranport firms to operate black boxes on vehicles to transmit crucial information to the Ministry of Transport on speeds and driving practices – a mandatory requirement enforced by the MOT.

Speaking in a meeting on Wednesday, Hung said the ministry was seeking permission from the Prime Minister to move the deadline for using blackboxes back to November 30, to allow time for firms to adapt to recent price increases.

The recent hikes have forced many transport firms, unable to afford the new fees, to switch off or remove black boxes from their vehicles, prompting fines from the MOT.

The ministry has also requested Viettel to send information on its new 3G package fee to the Ministry of Communications (MIC) to restore the use of black boxes soon.

Nguyen Duc Trung, deputy chief of MIC's telecommunication department, affirmed that a process was in place for telecom providers to adjust 3G package fees for transport firms.

Attending the meeting, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Automobile Transport Association, Than Van Thanh, said 3G internet fees had increased by as much as VND170 million (US$8,100) for each enterprise after ten days when the new prices were set.

"Some companies have said they only kept black boxes operating until November 10 because they were running short of money," he said.

CH Ha Noi Joint Stock Company director Nguyen Van Hai also expressed concerns. Mr Hai said his firm had provided around 2,500 black boxes at VND45 million ($2,410) over the past 10 days, but only 1086 were seen to be in operation until October 30.

Mr Hai said that enterprises had suspended operations of the black boxes because they could not pay the 3G fees necessary to keep them on.

Ta Quang Thuan, a representative of black box providers, said that due to the price change, SIM cards placed in the boxes had run out of credit when buses and trucks stopped or lost signal.

Thuan said telecom companies should set a new fee around VND10,000 ($0.5) per month.

"When selecting SIM cards for the black boxes, we consulted all 3G packages with the best prices. Viettel's specific package Vi-tracking did not increase this time but it was more expensive than other packages such Laptop Easy and Mi10," Thuan said.

Out of three telecom companies providing the transport tracking service, Viettel accounts for 70 per cent of the market with eight packages priced from VND15,000 ($0.7) per month.

Viettel deputy general director Pham Thi Thanh Van explained that many firms were using D-com and mobile internet toggles instead of specific packages affected by the 3G fee increase.

"We could not apply preferential fees for firms who did not register to use the service," she said, adding that the company worked with black box providers after receiving requests from transport businesses and the MIC.

"We will consider offering a new package for enterprises. However, the earliest time for applying this will be November 16 due to time needed to calculate fees [two periods on the first day and on the 16th day of the month]," Van said.

Meanwhile, MobiFone deputy general director Nguyen Dinh Chien said that its 3G package for automobile tracking was not adjusted.

"Before providing the service for customers, we will give the SIM cards to test for one to two months," he said.

Talking with Vnexpress online newspaper, Viettel said they had met with the Viet Nam Automobile Transport Association to identify solutions.

"We discussed applying a special package worth VND10,000 per month; however, the adjustment of the available packages or the launch of a new package will need to comply with MIC regulations," its representative said.

VinaPhone and MobiFone both signalled they were willing to take part in discussions and provide suitable packages for transport firms.

The three telecom companies raised their 3G Internet service fees from October 16 under the permission of MIC.

Following the increases, on October 23, the Viet Nam Automobile Transportation Association sought help from the Ministry of Transport because transport firms could not afford the new 3G fees. — VNS

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