A mobile WiMAX trial agreement was recently signed between Motorola and VNPT Group's Vietnam DataCommunication Company (VDC) during the Vietnamese President's recent US visit. The two sides will deploy Motorola's wi4 WiMAX, which will roll out Internet Protocol (IP) services such as Voice over Internet Protocol to meet broadband demand. The year-long trial will cover urban areas in Hanoi in the first phase and a similar area in HCM City in the second phase.

"We are waiting for a licence granted by the Ministry of Posts and Telematics to start the trial," said a VDC official.

Under the agreement, Motorola will play a key role in piloting mobile WiMAX technology in Vietnam. Meanwhile, VDC will cooperate with Intel to run the second phase of a fixed WiMAX trial in Lao Cai province which will finish in October.

"This marks a true milestone for this maturing country and demonstrates the foresight and dedication of VNPT to improving the nation's infrastructure," said David Knapp, Motorola Vietnam general director.

VDC is one of four operators in Vietnam to receive Ministry of Post and Telematics (MPT) licences to pilot fixed WiMAX in Lao Cai province. Domestic operators will have to compete to receive a mobile WiMAX deployment licence due to limitation of spectrum for the technology, which may be around 2.3-2.5Ghz.

"The Radio Frequency Directorate is allocating specific spectrums for mobile WiMAX, however, it is expected to have a contest to select operators for licencing," said Pham Hong Hai, director of the MPT's Telecoms Department.

The criteria for the contest includes deployment, timeline, investment and feasibility plans. After the MPT build criteria for 3G contest licencing later this year, mobile WiMAX contest criteria will also be applied.

"Foreign operators will also invest in deploying new technology networks for services due to promising features of the technology and services to the market. The contest, therefore, will not have only domestic operators but also foreign ones," Hai said.