Indonesia’s leading mobile operator by subscribers, Telkomsel, yesterday launched Long Term Evolution (LTE) service commercially in the 900MHz spectrum, making it the first cellular operator in Indonesia to dip its toe into the 4G market there. At launch, the cellco’s LTE network is available to subscribers in Jakarta and Bali, but plans are already in train to roll out 4G to other major cities in future.
However, Telkomsel’s announcement sparked an immediate reply from rivals XL Axiata and Indosat, which followed suit with their own separate 4G announcements. The former conformed that beta tests of its LTE network are underway, with the aim of commercialising its 4G service before the end of December, and Indosat said too that although still in the preparation phase, its commercial 4G network will launch soon. The first services are all being deployed in the 900MHz band, with plans to use 1800MHz spectrum in future. As it stands, 1800MHz frequencies are used exclusively for 2G/GSM delivery. Adita Irawati, vice president of corporate communications at Telkomsel, told CNN Indonesia: ‘Currently, 90 million Telkomsel 2G subscribers use the 1800MHz range. The new service should be allocated where the customer is.’ Industry watchers note that it makes sense for the country’s mobile operators to offer integrated services to enable them to roll out new products more easily. As such, new products for 2G and 4G could be released simultaneously regardless of users’ frequency bands. All Indonesian customers who want to enjoy 4G coverage will also need to change their SIM cards, the cellcos note.