Despite a cellular subscriber base of over 150 million, Indonesia's 3G subscribers represented just 7% of that total in early 2009. Uptake remains slow because 3G handset pricing is not affordable enough to attract users.
But this has not hampered operators' future network development plans. Telkomsel and Indosat are deploying HSPA+, with Telkomsel planning to launch in 24 cities this year. Indosat also plans to upgrade its 3G network to HSPA as a precursor to LTE.
Telecom regulator POSTEL has allowed operators to conduct LTE trials but has yet to announce frequency allocation plans. The 2.5-GHz band is currently used for Broadcast Satellite Services.
POSTEL is studying how to optimize this band for BWA use, regardless of network type. It is also studying the use of LTE in the 700-MHz band and the development of UHF Digital Dividend Mobile Broadband in ITU study groups and Asia Pacific Telecommunity forums.
But the biggest challenge is convincing broadcasters to release the band for the digital dividend. Digital terrestrial TV has not yet started in Indonesia. POSTEL is strongly urging the Minister of Communication and IT to migrate from analog to digital TV as soon as possible. The only LTE implementation currently feasible is spectrum refarming from current GSM/HSDPA operators.
Basharat Ashai is a market analyst for APAC & MEA at Maravedis -- [email protected]