Indon Wimax licensees want to go mobile

Nicole McCormick
22 Apr 2010

Indonesian operator Indosat says it will not roll out a Wimax network until the regulator changes its mind and allows it to launch with 802.16e technology.

A source with Indosat’s internet and multimedia arm, Indosat Mega Media (IMM), claims that after extensive trials with 16d – the government-mandated technology for Wimax -it has concluded that the technology is totally unsuited to both urban and rural markets.

Metropolitan coverage is blocked by buildings and in rural areas the hilly terrain and large amounts of foliage cause signal interference.

IMM – along with the other licensees - is pressuring the regulator, BRTI, to allow it to launch 16e services but the agency is so far unmoved.

The 802.16e technology supports both mobile and fixed-line connectivity. The earlier 802.16d standard is fixed-line only.

One Wimax licensee is reported to have already handed back its license.

The real problem is that the BRTI has struck a deal with local tech vendors to mandate 16d in order to allow them to effectively lock out international vendors.

The insistence on 16d not only persuaded Indosat and rival cellco Telkom to bid low for Wimax spectrum – and therefore avoid buying spectrum in many circles – but also persuaded many international bidders to stay out of the auction.

UK-based Augere Holdings and Malaysian firm Packet One are both believed to have dumped plans to bid for licenses because of the 16d mandate.

“Until players are allowed to launch with 16e it is hard to see how the Indonesian Wimax market can really move forward,” Tony Brown, senior analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, said.

“Some licensees will feel compelled to launch commercial services because of their large investment in spectrum but they will find it tough to make an impact on the market.

“The only real way forward will be for international vendors to strike joint-venture deals with Indonesian companies and begin rolling out 16e products, but that could take time.”

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