SmartFren Telecom (Smartfren) could launch commercial 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services imminently, IndoTelko reports, noting a media release from the cellco on Saturday stating: ‘Get ready for the most anticipated technological surprises next week’. However, the jury is out given that the announcement contradicts an earlier statement from Smartfren marketing director Roberto Saputra suggesting that LTE would not be commercialised until September. The cellco, which recently activated its LTE network operating in the 850MHz/1900MHz band in Batam, Riau Islands, has launched a charm offensive to encourage users to migrate to the new network. Further, the CDMA operator-turned-LTE provider – which has highlighted ten cities that it considers a priority for the launch of commercial 4G services in the near future, as part of wider plans to launch in 22 cities by the year end – has inked infrastructure contracts worth USD788 million with Nokia and ZTE to complete the rollout. ZTE’s deal is worth USD401.9 million and will see it deploying 4G networks in the eastern region comprising Central Java, East Java, Lombok, Bali, Kalimantan and Sulawesi. Nokia, meanwhile, will roll out Smartfren’s LTE systems in the western region that includes Jakarta and surrounding areas, as well as Sumatra. Moreover, ZTE and Smartfren also plan to launch a pilot trial of pre-5G services based on so-called ‘Massive MIMO’ technology in 2016.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Smartfren recorded net losses of IDR815.519 billion (USD60.5 million) in the first half of 2015, up 24.72% compared to IDR653.883 billion loss in the same period last year. In a filing to the Indonesia Stock Exchange (BEI), Smartfren confirmed that its stock experienced FOREX losses of IDR346.6 billion in H1 2015, wiping out a foreign exchange-related profit of IDR83.7 billion in the year-earlier period. Revenue in the first half increased by 6% year-on-year to IDR1.519 trillion, from IDR1.432 trillion – below expectations.