Competition in Indonesia's fast-growing 3G market is about to get stepped up a notch.
A new CDMA carrier, Smart Telecom, has just upgraded to EV-DO, while another CDMA operator, Mobile-8 is preparing an EV-DO launch early this year.
Smart, owned by local conglomerate Sinar Mas Group, has signed two million voice customers since its launch in September 2007. It has invested $350 million on the ZTE-supplied network and has an early target of 100,000 subs for its service, called Jump.
Smart director Fanda Soesilo said Jump will focus on data services because they are 'the future business.'
That will put it in direct competition with the HSPA services offered by Telkomsel, Indosat and Excelcomindo, and Bakrie Telecom's EV-DO.
Today, Indonesia has more than 100 million mobile customers, led by Telkomsel with 52.3 million subs, of whom 1.5 million use 3G and 300,000 HSPA. No. 2 carrier Indosat has 33.5 million subs, with 1 million 3G and 200,000 HSPA customers.
Industry analysts forecast total subs will reach 120 million by 2010, while wireless broadband customers are expected to reach 3.5 million, up from about one million today.
Indosat's Andri Aslan says thanks to the scale of the local market he doesn't see the new competitor upsetting the existing operators.
He is optimistic Indosat will profit from the demand for wireless broadband. The company is targeting at least 40% of the total number of users.
'This market has potential,' Aslan says.