Indonesia’s crowded mobile market continues rush to embrace mobile broadband
After a period of uncertainty, the Indonesian telecom sector has settled into what looks like a healthy development phase. This country of around 245 million people presents a huge potential market; however, it faces some particularly big challenges that need to be confronted 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 are the crowded operator market, especially the mobile segment, and the slow rate of implementing regulatory decisions. At the same time, on a broader front, there is no avoiding the fact that Indonesia must also continue to deal with a range of social, political and economic issues that have proved 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 has now become the dominant component within the fixed market segment; by 2012 wireless services made up 75% of the total fixed-line subscriber base. The introduction of fixed wireless has also seen a major upturn in fixed subscriber numbers with teledensity reaching 16% early in 2013. Wireless technology has not only boosted the growth rate in the last few years; it has provided much-needed basic telephone services to previously unserved communities. In a short space of five years this technology platform had transformed the fixed-line market in a positive fashion.
Meanwhile, a strong mobile market (penetration of 117% in early 2013) was seeing a possible 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 three years to December 2012 the mobile subscriber base grew from 150 million to 280 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 being offered by the operators and take up of mobile data services is certainly on the rise, as evidenced by a significant surge in the sale of smartphones.
The number of internet users in Indonesia was estimated at 54 million by early 2013, representing a rapidly growing population penetration of 22%. At the same time, the fixed internet subscription market was generally depressed with just 5.5 million subscribers reported by end-2012. Broadband subscriptions are certainly growing but from a low base. The expansion of mobile broadband in particular was offering real promise to the internet market as uptake of new generation services accelerates.
Indonesia’s mobile market passed 285 million subscribers by March 2013 with penetration running at just over 117%;
After years of strong growth, the annual increase in mobile subscribers had moderated somewhat by 2013 to somewhere around 10%;
The 3G market had got off to a slow start, but by 2012 there were sign of a surge in growth, with sales of smartphones jumping sharply;
Internet user penetration was starting to grow (estimated 22% user penetration by end-2012);
Internet subscription rates were on the increase, boosted by strong uptake of mobile broadband;
Construction of the US$1.5 billion Palapa Ring optical fibre cable project was continuing.
The launch of PT Telkom’s Telkom 3 satellite in August 2012 was a failure; PT Telkom was looking for a new partner in the Telkom 3 satellite project.
Indonesia: - key telecom parameters – 2011 - 2013
Category | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 (e)
Fixed-line services: | | |
Total No. of subscribers | 38.6 million | 38.6 million | 41.0 million
Internet services: | | |
Total No. of fixed internet subscribers | 4.5 million | 5.5 million | 6.5 million
Mobile services: | | |
Total No. of subscribers | 259 million | 284 million | 307 million
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year