Acknowledging the importance of telecommunication services, in the two last decades, Vietnam has reformed its telecommunication sector, eliminating the monopoly mechanism and liberalizing part of the telecommunication market, eradicating the cross-subsidies mechanism and establishing a universal service fund. Vietnam, by these efforts, has achieved considerable successes: the total number of mobile phone subscribers reached 131,673,724 and a number of 31,304,211 was for internet users in 2012, with the rates were 148.33 and 35.26 percent respectively (MIC, 2013). In which, mobile broadband internet subscribers were 15,327,826 and 4,775,368 subscribers were fixed broadband internet (MIC, 2013). Vietnam was also ranked 10th in Asia in terms of the volume of the internet users in 2012. Nevertheless, a big gap of penetration of broadband internet between urban and rural areas has persisted. Whilst, urban inhabitants are living in high-speed internet access, less than 1 percent of rural households had any type of internet assess in 2008 (Tuan, 2011).
Nowadays, broadband networks and the services and applications that they support are increasingly becoming critical to each country, and having a considerable impact on the economic growth, the global competitiveness and for its wealth (Calvo, 2012). According to a World Bank’s study, every 10 percent increases in broadband penetration has led to an increase of economic growth, from 0.24 to 1.5 percent (The World Bank, p.6, 2012). Furthermore, information and communications technology (ICT) in general and broadband networks in particular are a main means to achieve Millennium Development Goals as well as to build the Information Society (IS) that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has suggested countries to carry out (The World Bank, p.297, 2012; WSIS, 2003).
In order to bridge the digital divide, Vietnam has proactively undertaken initiatives like facilitating competition via licensing new entrants, establishing Vietnam public utility telecommunication service Fund, and building up programs on provision of universal services in rural areas. Continued the program on provision of universal service period 2005-2010, on 24th July 2015 the Prime Minister issued another program on provision of universal services towards 2020. By this program, the government is to primarily focus on subsidizing for roll out of rural broadband network. However, the design process of the programs has basically lacked involvement of relevant actors. In other words, the government has not adequately analysed necessary factors in building up the program. Hence, this project adopted aims at identifying and analysing institutional factors in order to find out an appropriate model to derive policy for enhancing the penetration of broadband internet infrastructure in rural areas of developing countries and in Vietnam as well.
The project is to employ the institutional theory to analyse factors influencing the process of formulating the broadband development policy. Besides, qualitative and quantitative methods will be applied to analyse secondary data as well as conduct interviews and surveys. Via the analysis, key factors impacting on the process of formulation and implementation of universal service policy will be clarified. Furthermore, case studies in the universal service/broadband development policy of some countries will mostly probably underpin the analysis undertaken in this study.
Objectives of the project
The project will identify and analyse institutional factors to design an appropriate policy framework to foster the penetration of rural broadband infrastructure in developing countries and in Vietnam as well. Generally, the project will also provide guidelines for building regulations relating to universal service. Besides, the project will construct a theoretical framework to depict how the model is constructed.
Expected outcome of the project
The project will examine and design an appropriate policy model to further penetration of rural broadband infrastructure in developing countries with specific empirical analysis in Vietnam. Furthermore, a theoretical framework will be also constructed to explain the how was the model formulated and how will it operate.