Lao Telecommunication, established in mid-90s as a joint venture between the Government of the Lao PDR and Singapore-based Shenington Investments, completed its quarter century of operations two years ago. The company, which is owned 51% by the Lao government, has been the leading telecommunications provider in the South-east Asian country.
From 2G to 4G and 5G, name any connectivity revolution and Lao Telecommunica-tion has been at the forefront of it, when it comes to introducing disruptive tech to the market in Laos. International Finance recently caught up with Lao Telecommunication CEO Souphol Chanthavixay, who spoke about his company’s expertise, operational capabilities, roadmap of introducing AI to the people of Lao and much more.
Can you tell us briefly about Lao Telecom?
Lao Telecommunication was established in 1996 as a joint venture between the Gov-ernment of the Lao PDR and Shenington Investments from Singapore with the Gov-ernment owning 51% of the company. We just celebrated our quarter century two years ago, and through that period Lao Telecom has been the leading telecommunica-tions provider in the country.
Obviously, the landscape since 1996 has changed dramatically; who would have thought that applications such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and many others, would emerge and change the way in which we communicate? But with each new innovation, we have kept pace and made sure that our customers enjoy the best possible services. We have gone from 2G in the early years to 4G and 5G in the last few years, and Lao Telecom has consistently been the first company to introduce such new technologies to the market in Laos.
How do Lao Telecom’s activities promote national development?
Lao Telecom as the major telecoms service provider in Laos, is proud to be able to contribute to the government’s digital economy policies by building a high-standard network with quality coverage to all cities across the country. Through our efforts, our support of technology innovations and the introduction of leading-edge solutions, Lao Telecom is a major force in driving digital innovation and as a result of such innova-tions, helps drive the nation’s economic development as we move from a least devel-oped country to a newly developing economy in the next few years. LTC’s infrastruc-ture based on the latest technologies will ensure that the country can enjoy the benefits of world-class service and connectivity on which the digital economy can securely be implemented and grow.
What is Lao Telecom’s view on new technologies especially in the area of AI?
Everyone knows that technology and new advances in technology drive the world and can empower an economy’s sustainable growth. At Lao Telecom we stay abreast of the latest technological advances, and whether it is the introduction of 4G or 5G mobile communications technologies, they are the innovative technologies that form the basic foundation that supports Lao Telecom’s broadband speed and capacity, the very ele-ments that make us the leading telecoms and digital solutions provider in Laos. The country’s e-commerce, social media, mobile payments system and all other types of digital business solutions depend on our ability to deliver these technologies, and that is our mission, to provide the type of solutions that will answer the needs of the con-sumers, and the business and government sectors. We will continue to monitor new advances, and already we are looking at the recent wave of announcements about AI technology that may have a massive effect on our daily lives – how will that affect tel-ecommunications, and how can we as a telco harness the power of AI, and more; these are the questions of today for solutions for the future.
You mention fintech, what is Lao Telecom doing in this area, and how important is it?
Fintech is quickly becoming an important pillar of the digital economy, and having an e-wallet is a major step toward financial inclusion and fiscal efficiency.
Ltc’s e-wallet, known as M-Money, is a Mobile electronic payment system that was established in July 2021. The online, or rather, on phone payment platform facilitates convenience, particularly when it comes to time – people who don’t want to spend a lot of time in banks, or would rather pay for government services online rather than go to a physical building will find this a convenient solution. We are rapidly expanding the platform, and to date, we have well over 300,000 merchants attached to the wallet, as well as nearly 1 million users of the platform. Further, M-Money serves the govern-ment’s policy toward transforming the country into a cashless society, and ensures that everyone has access to financial services.
How does Lao Telecom attract and retain personnel?
Of course, Ltc also has to focus on its human capital to ensure that we employ the peo-ple who will drive these new technology implementations. Further, we have to manage our fiscal and scientific resources to encourage creative new projects, whether they be in the area of AI, big data, cloud computing, or others to provide new services to our customers. We are constantly looking for new talent to help us keep abreast of these changes, while also offering an extensive range of in-house and external training and education opportunities for our personnel. We work hard to identify and retain key personnel while also developing and maintaining a strong corporate culture based on our core principles of integrity, respect, learning, compliance, creativity, and customer focus.
In terms of Corporate Responsibility or Shared Value, what are the activities un-dertaken by Lao Telecom?
As with our personnel and solutions for our customers, we also take our responsibility toward society as a whole very seriously. There are several strands that Lao Telecom views as core pillars of developing a just, inclusive, and equal society. One of those is education, and since our inception, Lao Telecom has consistently supported education efforts throughout the country. Annually we provide scholarships to students at the Na-tional University of Laos, participate in skills-building events and activities, and throughout the COVID pandemic period, worked closely with the Ministry of Educa-tion to facilitate online learning for students at all levels.
In addition to education, Lao Telecom also supports activities related to the preserva-tion of our Lao culture, and our natural resources. Further, Lao Telecom is always ready to support emergency aid efforts in times of natural disasters or emergencies. Whether be it floods that devastate the livelihoods of people, or other calamities, Lao Telecom provides assistance wherever and whenever it is needed.