Indonesia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband
Indonesia continues to embrace mobile broadband
After a period of uncertainty, the Indonesian telecom sector has settled into what looks to be a steady development phase. This country of around 250 million people presents a huge potential market; however, it must overcome some particularly big challenges if it is to successfully continue the building of the telecommunications infrastructure required to support a large population spread over what is a uniquely complex geography. Two of the more significant challenges have been the crowded operator market, especially the mobile segment, and the slow rate of implementing regulatory decisions. The market has finally started to see some serious consolidation, with a number of operator mergers happening. On a broader front, beyond the telecom sector itself, there is no avoiding the fact that Indonesia must also continue to deal with a range of social, political and economic issues that have proven problematic over the years.
The embracing of fixed-wireless technology, after an early stumbling start to building the country’s fixed-line network, provided a fresh basis for expansion. Wireless became the dominant component within the fixed market segment; by 2012 wireless services made up 75% of the total fixed-line subscriber base. Then in 2013 the fixed-line market segment suffered a major setback with a huge decline in the wireless subscriptions. In a short space of five years the wireless technology platform had transformed the fixed-line market in a positive fashion and then suffered a major setback.
Meanwhile, a strong mobile market (penetration of over 130% at the start of 2015) was seeing a moderation in its growth rate. While the global financial crisis saw expansion in mobile subscriber numbers slow somewhat back in 2009, the market did not lose much momentum overall. In the four years to December 2013 the mobile subscriber base grew from 150 million to 300 million. As penetration passed the important 100% milestone, there was still considerable potential for further growth in the market. Consumer interest has started to shift to the 3G services and, more recently, the 4G/LTE services being offered by the operators. The take up of mobile data services is certainly on the rise, as evidenced by a significant surge in the sale of smartphones.
Estimates for the number of internet users in Indonesia vary considerably; in any case there is definitely a rapidly growing internet user population. At the same time, the fixed internet subscription market was generally depressed. Nevertheless, broadband subscriptions are now growing, but from a low base. The expansion of mobile broadband in particular was compensating to a significant extent for the sluggish fixed broadband market and offering real promise for increased online activity as the uptake of new generation mobile services accelerates.
The mobile market in Indonesia has been growing strongly, but at a more modest rate than previously (just under 10% annually);
The fixed line market (wireless and wireline) continues to suffer setbacks, with a rapidly declining subscriber base;
Broadband services are finally starting to grow, boosted by surging mobile broadband;
The mobile broadband explosion has subscriber numbers at around 65 million (26% penetration) by end-2014;
Around 60% of fixed internet subscribers had broadband access;
Data traffic is growing quickly and forecast to expand six-fold, from 84EB in 2014 to 656EB by 2020;
Surge in demand for data traffic sees operators increasing system capacity;
The government’s initiative on national infrastructure will push for fibre and 4G coverage nationwide;
Both Telkom and Indosat have been expanding the number of WiFi hotspots around the country;
TD-LTE wireless broadband operator Internux, trading as ‘Bolt’, reported that it had signed up 750,000 customers in the first ten months since its commercial launch in Jakarta;
Telkomsel and XL Axiata both launched 4G/LTE services commercially in December 2014;
In early 2015 SmartFren was looking to upgrade of its CDMA 3G network to 4G/LTE;
Market leader Telkomsel was continuing to dominate the mobile market, with its mobile subscriber base of around 45% market share;
Indosat was assigned a 4G concession in early 2015 allowing it to use frequencies of 800MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz;
PT Indosat, battling with Axiata for second place in the mobile market well behind Telkomsel, saw strong growth in 2014 to put it firmly in second place.
Companies mentioned in this report
PT Telkom; PT Telkomsel; PT Indosat; PT Satelindo; IM3 Indosat; Bakrie Telecom (BTEL). Qatar Telecom (QTel); XL Axiata; PT Hutchison CP; SmartFren; Mobile 8; Smart Telecom; PT Natrindo Telepon Selular (NTS); SingTel; Temasek; Qtel; Bolt/Internux.
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