Satelindo, the mobile subsidiary of fixed line telco Indosat, has added 1.47 million net new customers since the start of the year, 779,600 during the second quarter alone, to take its total customer base to 7.37 million. The operator, which is currently the second largest in the country in terms of subscribers behind Telkomsel – a subsidiary of former fixed line monopoly operator Telkom, has said it expects to see the figure grow to 8.5 million by the end of the year. Parent company Indosat has pledged to shift its focus away from the fixed line sector, where growth has stagnated in recent years despite the wireline penetration rate standing at just 3.5%, to focus instead on its mobile offering. To this end, in May it contracted Ericsson to expand Satelindo’s network in a deal costing it USD120 million.
Satelindo competes with four other mobile operators in Indonesia –Telkomsel and Excelcomindo which operate GSM-900 networks, Mobisel which provides services over an NMT-450 network and Mobile-8 which operates a CDMA service. The market has witnessed strong growth over the last few years, which the regulator has put down to the increasing popularity of pre-paid services. At the end of March 2004 there were 20.6 million mobile subscribers in the country, representing a penetration rate of 8.65%, up from 16.2 million and 7.18% a year earlier. Indosat had a market share of 31.95% at that date, behind Telkomsel which claimed 52.07%.