The seven firms have until January 2009 to submit their tenders for the licenses - which are not being offered to any new entrants - and the government will announce the results within a couple of months.
The tender will be based largely on a beauty contest model where coverage plans will be a key factor in being short-listed prior to the auction.
Estimates from the Mobile World subscriber tracker says that the country ended the first half of this year with a shade under 50 million mobile phone users - representing a population penetration level of 58%.
The Vietnamese government is also preparing to sell a 30% stake in MobiFone via an initial public offering by the end of this year. A stake of 15% will be listed on the stock market while the government will also sell 15% to a "strategic investor", which is generally presumed to be a major international operator.
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