PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin), a subsidiary of Indonesian state-owned telco PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), has inaugurated its mobile operations in Timor-Leste under the brand name Telkomcel, bringing an end to the monopoly held by Timor Telkom. The Jakarta Post cites Telkom executive Arief Yahya as saying that Telin plans to invest up to USD50 million in the rollout of its network across the country. At present, the cellco has installed 30 2G/3G base transceiver stations (BTSs), all of which are located in the capital Dili, although the number of cell sites is scheduled to increase to 110 by the end of April, providing coverage to 95% of Timor-Leste. Arief said that the firm aims to sign up at least 4,000 subscribers this year, but added that ‘20,000 subscribers have signed up with us when we offered the service for free during the pre-launch period.’ Overall, Telin aims to obtain around 60% of the Timor-Leste market by 2018.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Telin and Vietnam’s Viettel Global Investment were announced by the government of Timor-Leste as the winners of the country’s two new telecommunications licences in July 2012. Until that date, the sole licensee in the market was fixed and mobile operator Timor Telecom, a subsidiary of Portugal Telecom, which won a tender to construct the island’s telecoms infrastructure from scratch in July 2002 and was granted exclusivity in the market until 2017. In March 2012, however, an agreement was reached between the government and TT to end its monopoly earlier than planned and the following month a tender was launched for a pair of mobile spectrum licences. Interested parties were invited to apply for two 15-year licences which permit the use of frequencies in the 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands for the provision of mobile services, with an option to use frequencies in the 850MHz band. After being announced as one of the successful bidders, Telin promised to commence services within six months of receiving its licence and committed to covering 94% of the population with GSM mobile telephony and 3G internet access services. Viettel meanwhile has committed to initially providing GSM and 3G services to 93% of the population, rising to 95% within three years.