Vietnam’s telecommunications links to the world started with cooperation between Australia’s Overseas Telecommunication Commission (OTC) (later Telstra) and Vietnam’s General Department of Posts and Telecommunications (GDPT) (later VNPT). This year marks the 35th Anniversary of the first business agreement signed in 1988 by OTC and the GDPT.
Recreating the inaugural telephone call from Vietnam to Australia, Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam, H.E. Mr Andrew Goledzinowski, welcomed the cooperation.
‘This partnership was truly transformational in connecting Vietnam internationally and contributed to today’s strong bilateral relations’, Ambassador Goledzinowski said.
‘This partnership greatly supported Vietnam realise the benefits of its Doi Moi reforms and helped create an enabling environment for business and investment into Vietnam’, he said.
‘As we celebrate 50 years of Diplomatic Relations between Australia and Vietnam this year, we are focusing on the next stage of cooperation to realise the opportunities of the digital revolution. I congratulate all those who contributed to laying such a good foundation for this cooperation and thank you for your contribution to friendship between our countries’, he said.
OTC installed Vietnam’s first Vista satellite earth station in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in 1987, which was routed to Australia. This provided for up to five international calls to be made simultaneously, an improvement in quality and capacity compared with existing radio links.
Additional and larger satellite earth stations were built first in Hanoi and then across the country.
In early 1989, visiting Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gareth Evans, made the first call over a new satellite link from Hanoi to his colleague Acting Minister for Telecommunications, Bob Brown, in Australia. This was followed by the installation by OTC of new larger satellite receiving stations in HCMC and Hanoi, which greatly increased capacity and service offerings on the INTELSAT network.
Throughout the 1990s, as technology changed other important milestones were reached. The first internet modem was brought to Vietnam by Australian National University Professor Rob Hurle in 1991. Australia was involved with Vietnam’s first submarine cable, which landed in Vung Tau in 1999. The cable allowed for 15,000 international calls to be made simultaneously, as well as international high-speed data and video services. A second submarine cable followed in 2000, landing in Da Nang and remains operational today.
Beyond infrastructure, the partnership included a focus on human capacity development. OTC/Telstra supported training for over 3,000 technicians, engineers, finance, and marketing telecommunications executives in Vietnam.