Viettel joins global SD-WAN club as it considers Philippines mobile licence

23 August 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Vietnamese military-run operator Viettel has joined a global grouping of telecoms companies formed by CenturyLink, Deutsche Telekom, Reliance Jio and SK Telecom.

The Next Generation Enterprise Network Alliance (ngena) was formed in early 2016 to promote the spread of software-defined networks (SDNs) and software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs). It now has 18 members.

Doan Dai Phong, director of Viettel’s international business centre, said that joining ngena “allows us to sell global VPN [virtual private network] solutions to our enterprise customers. ngena has been our SD-WAN provider of choice as it enables us to provide globally consistent services while maintaining full control over the customer experience.”

Ngena said that, “by joining the alliance, Viettel will be able to provide fully managed global SD-WAN services to its enterprise customers in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Viettel has significant presences in 12 countries and is one of the fastest growing operators in the world.” Reuters reported today that Viettel is interested in becoming an investor in the Philippines’ future third operator.

Alessandro Adriani, managing director at ngena, said: “We are extremely proud to welcome Viettel to the ngena alliance as it extends our coverage to four important countries in Asia. Viettel is amongst the top 100 most valuable telecom brands in the world and will be the operator of choice for many enterprise customers.”

Viettel last month became a partner in the fourth telecoms network in Myanmar.

The aim of ngena is to provide “enterprises with consistent data connectivity services, integrating all the alliance partners’ networks into a single global SDN”, said the alliance. “Using state-of-the-art cloud and virtualisation technologies from ngena’s strategic technology partner Cisco-Viptela, the ngena alliance offers end-to-end managed SD-WANs.”

Ngena added: “The combination of this technology with the alliance’s operating model and ecosystem gives customers of the alliance partners access to secure, stable, scalable and easy-to-use global corporate networks, and provides high-quality local customer care.”

In addition to the founders, the new members of ngena are now Altice (plus SFR and PT Portugal, formerly Portugal Telecom), Expereo, KPN, MTN, Neutrona, Viettel, Starhub, Telus, PCCW Global and Veon. Technology partners are Cisco, Comarch and Equinix.

In Reuters’ report this morning, it said Viettel wanted to bid for the third mobile licence in the Philippines, promised by President Rodrigo Duterte last year. A third player would challenge the duopoly of Globe Telecom and PLDT.

“Viettel is interested in the third licence on telecommunications in this market,” Viettel, Vietnam’s largest mobile carrier by subscription numbers, told Reuters. “Viettel will thoroughly consider participating in case the conditions of the bidding documents are in line with the strategy of Viettel.”

No foreign investor can have more than 40% of a Philippines telecoms business, so Viettel – or whichever other company wins the licence – will have to work with a local player that will have 60% of the equity.