New draft Telecoms Law (amended) may affect foreign investment attraction

NA Committee on Science, Technology and Environment and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) yesterday held a meeting to collection opinions and proposals for the new draft Telecoms Law (amended).
Deputy CEO Vu Tu Thanh of US-ASEAN Business Council

Deputy CEO Vu Tu Thanh of US-ASEAN Business Council

The new draft expands the application scope to include non-telecoms services such as conversation, messages, and meetings on Internet platforms; cloud computing and data centers.

However, Deputy CEO Vu Tu Thanh of US-ASEAN Business Council commented that international practices and the laws of other countries classify these services as non-telecoms ones, and thus should be amended by separate legislation. Therefore, these services will have to apply for a telecoms permit and are subject to amendments like traditional telecoms ones.

He further added that the application scope expansion could create barriers to foreign investments in cloud computing and data center services, which are critical to the development of a digital economy. Normally, the growth of these two services needs resource mobilization from all economic sectors, especially foreign investments.

Hence, managing these two like other telecoms services with limits in the proportion of foreign investments or requesting them to follow regular telecoms services registration procedures, or even forcing international businesses to sign a commercial contract with domestic telecoms enterprises are major concerns of foreign investors before pouring money in these fields.

Lawyer Tran Manh Hung from BKVN Law Firm

Lawyer Tran Manh Hung from BKVN Law Firm

Agreeing with that, lawyer Tran Manh Hung from BKVN Law Firm said that the management of Over-the-Top (OTT) services just like telecoms ones is insensible since the former is different from the latter in nature. In particular, meeting, message and conversation services on Internet platforms can only be offered to Internet users, which means these people have already used telecoms services. OTT services are provided on open digital platforms free of charge, without any subscription or occupancy of telecoms resources, frequencies, and number storage like other telecoms services. That is why other countries in the region and the world do not apply the same standards, regulations to govern OTT services as those to control traditional telecoms services.

Mr. Hung also stressed that the content of the draft Telecoms Law (amended) to request cross-border OTT service providers to either have a commercial contract with a domestic telecoms enterprise or establish a representative office in Vietnam might become an unwanted barrier to OTT services currently operating in Vietnam.

The draft Telecoms Law will be presented to the National Assembly for consideration for the first time in the upcoming 5th session.

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