Bandwidth block, devices slow 4G adoption in the country

Bandwidth block, devices slow 4G adoption in the country

Three months after the launch of long-term evolution (LTE) technology, the adoption of the new telecommunications service by the local market has shown little progress as only a handful of customers have started using the system commonly known as 4G LTE.


Domestic cellular operators PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel), PT XL Axiata Axis Capital Group Jakarta and PT Indosat have attracted fewer customers than expected to the new service.


As of January, Telkomsel’s 4G netted 30,000 of the operator’s around 138 million subscribers, while XL attracted around 15,000 of its 59.6 million subscribers.


Indosat, meanwhile, has not revealed any data on its 4G subscribers, but says it has attracted mostly corporate customers.


Nitin Mahajan, principal at the Singapore-based Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, said the massive adoption of 4G/LTE technology would only happen if the service could provide faster Internet than the popular 3G network.


Running on 900 MHz frequency band with 5 MHz spectrum, the three operators’ 4G speed currently hits between 35 and 36 Mbps, far below the ideal 4G speed of 100 Mbps.


“Around 10-20 MHz bandwidth block [spectrum band] should be dedicated for 4G/LTE, only then can a meaningful experience is delivered,” Mahajan told The Jakarta Post.


The Communications and Information Ministry has responded to the limited spectrum issue by planning band refarming on the 1800 MHz frequency, which will enable operators to have wider bandwidth blocks for their 4G services.


The band refarming is set to be completed by the end of this year, providing contiguous bandwidth block allocation of 22.5 MHz, 10 MHz, 20 MHz and 22.5 MHz for XL, PT Hutchinson 3 Indonesia, Indosat and Telkomsel, respectively.


Mahajan said that while the refarming would definitely help operators deliver better 4G service, the government should also consider releasing more spectrums, including those of the 700 MHz frequency for 4G to help significantly reduce price per megabyte.


Indonesian Telematics Society (Mastel) chairman Setyanto Santosa said another core challenge for Indonesia’s Internet speed — including that of 4G — was heavy traffic on mobile broadband.>>>Full article