State hold on ADSL services slows broadband
Competition among broadband Internet service providers has seen major change. First, FPT had to stop taking on new subscribers because, as a joint stock company in which the State only owns 12 per cent equity, it is not eligible to provide ADSL services.
Current laws require providers to be at least 51 per cent State-owned.
As a result, it had to put on hold at least 6,000 applications for ADSL connection, creating a lot of frustration.
The only way out for FPT is to set up a new company where the State will have at least a 51 per cent interest and hand over the ADSL division to it.
Because of the high cost of building infrastructure for ADSL, some other providers, like Netnam and Saigon Postel, said they had withdrawn from the market.
In the meantime, broadband services using cable modem were introduced. Cable TV companies like Ha Noi Cable Television and Saigontourist Cable Television in conjunction with VP Telecom have started to offer high-speed connection at lower rates.
All cable TV subscribers need to do is buy a cable modem: they can then surf the net at a speed of up to 54Mbps (download) and 10Mbps (upload).
Other cable television companies are now in negotiations with telecom companies to offer similar services.
In this race, Vietnam Television seems to be ahead since it has the largest subscriber base.
Now it’s antibiotics
There is fresh trouble for Vietnamese catfish products in the US. Three states, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have slapped a temporary ban on their sale until they are found to be free of fluoroquinolone, an antibiotic.
Now, if one considers past events, it is hard to think the measure is purely in the interest of the American consumer.
First, US catfish farmers lobbied frantically to prevent Vietnamese basa from being labelled ‘catfish’. Although basa are indeed catfish, the US farmers succeeded.
Then, they won an anti-dumping suit ensuring import taxes of 37 to 64 per cent are slapped on Vietnamese catfish.
However, even all this did not stop Americans from preferring Vietnamese basa by 3 to 1, a Mississippi State University study found.
The catfish farmers, discarding the study as inaccurate, tried to organise a taste test two weeks ago in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The test confirmed American consumers preferred Vietnamese catfish to their own.
And, now begins the hunt for fluoroquinolone – an outlawed substance, as the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry put it.
Some American newspapers have called the ban “pure grandstanding” to “create an even playing field” for US catfish farmers.
Business Beat could not help but agree with the remarks after reading press releases from the department quoting its Commissioner Bob Odom as saying, “we’re going from location to location making sure we find it [Vietnamese seafood] all.”
He even scared those who took part in the taste test by saying: “We are concerned and disappointed to see the basa … could have contained a chemical banned by the federal government for use in food-producing animals.”
Let’s see what lies in store next for the trouble-prone Vietnamese catfish.
Yet another conference on overseas Vietnamese was held last week in Ha Noi. And the discussion was almost the same as at previous conferences – how to attract overseas Vietnamese talent to help build the country.
The consensus is that Viet kieu’s strength is not capital but the expertise they have accumulated.
But the problem is that despite their willingness and strong attachment to their home country, it is hard to utilise their know-how because of the complicated paperwork, discriminatory attitude and inability to channel their contribution to the right areas.
Participants said Viet Nam should be able to create a good working environment for local talent first before Viet kieu are convinced their efforts are appreciated.
Most successful graduates from overseas have to find jobs with foreign-invested companies rather than the public sector or State-owned companies.
Others said it would be better if the Government had specific projects and publicised them for overseas Vietnamese to participate.
These can be in education, technology, agriculture and environmental protection… Viet kieu can only help if they know their expertise is being used in the right area.
Policies towards Viet kieu are quite liberal but the legal framework and bureaucracy have not moved fast enough to convert them into concrete action.