Regulator hints at giving green light to mobile WiMAX

24 Jun 2010

The Indonesian Telecommunication Regulatory Body (ITRB) is reported to be considering plans to change local telecoms rules to all existing WiMAX licensees to allow an upgrade to mobile WiMAX (802.16e) technology. For a long time the watchdog has dragged its heels on reversing a ban on the technology, leaving operators, and indeed growth, constrained by the more limited fixed-only (802.16d) standard. TelecomAsia reports that the ITRB awarded TDD licences in the 2.3GHz band in 2009, since when lobbying has been going on to to change the rules vis a vis 802.16e. They argue that the fixed-only option is blighted by poor coverage and interference in both rural and urban areas and has ‘economic disadvantages’ in terms of costs. ITRB commissioner Heru Sutadi is quoted as saying: We are still [contemplating] how to accelerate 2.3GHz operators so they can be commercial … We have got a lot of input from operators and vendors, so we will study the input to consider any policy we can issue so all BWA 2.3GHz operators can sell their product as soon as possible.’

To date, Indonesia has licensed eight companies to offer WiMAX services namely: Telkom, Indosat, Internux, First Media, Jasnita, Berca, Indonesian WiMAX Consortium and WiMAX Indonesia. However, operators are also thought to be calling on the regulator to speed up plans to remove some 2.5GHz spectrum from satellite broadcasters and make them available for WiMAX or Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in a bid to reinvigorate a push towards 4G. If that proves difficult, the ITRB is understood to be exploring an alternative option under which it could re-farm 3G spectrum and/or open up further UMTS frequencies, for 4G.