Smartfren launches LTE-A in Jakarta

21 Aug 2015

Indonesian mobile operator SmartFren Telecom (Smartfren) launched dual-band 4G LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) services in Jakarta on Wednesday, using Time Division Duplex (TDD) frequencies and Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) concurrently, to allow it to optimise bandwidth and deliver higher download speeds. The cellco’s carrier aggregation (CA) LTE-A platform will be made available in 32 cities in Indonesia, vendor manager Vimal Kanagalingam told Antara News on Wednesday, using TDD spectrum in the 2300MHz band as well as FDD 850MHz frequencies.

Smartfren joins Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel), XL Axiata and Indosat which launched their commercial 4G LTE services in the 900MHz band last December in areas such as Jakarta, Bandung and Lombok. However, Smartfren claims to be able to provide wider 4G/4.5G coverage spanning from Aceh to Kalimantan, having contracted Chinese vendor ZTE to install LTE-A in Central Java, East Java, Sulawesi and Kalimantan, while it also plans to expand further to eastern Indonesia, as part of a USD401.98 million master contract deal with the Chinese firm to develop 4G in the east of the country. Separately, Nokia Networks has a similar deal – worth USD383.58 million – to develop its western LTE networks. ZTE has already rolled out 3,500 base transceiver stations (BTS) in the eastern region and now plans to deploy 4,500 in the west. Smartfren is on record as saying that it hopes to see its subscriber base surge to 15 million users this year from 11.9 million last year on the back of the rollout.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that CDMA operator turned LTE provider Smartfren recorded net losses of IDR815.519 billion (USD60.5 million) in the first half of 2015, up 24.72% compared to a 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. The firm is looking to realise double-digit revenue growth this year, partly driven by its new LTE service.