Mobile operator XL Axiata is aiming to sign up between eight and ten million 4G LTE mobile internet users by the end of 2016, up from the 1.2 million subscribers it has today, out of a total base of over 46 million. According to company spokesman Roy Wisnu Wibowo, XL Axiata is looking to end this year with around 10% of its total user base on the advanced 4G network, saying that the increased availability of low-cost handsets is helping to drive take-up. ‘Perhaps there are still many subscribers using old SIM cards. Therefore we are encouraging our customers to use 4G-capable devices and also to upgrade their SIM cards to 4G,’ he is quoted by the Jakarta Globe as saying. The cellco – the second largest in Indonesia by subscribers – is rolling out a range of promotions and offers to entice users, including its ‘4G Tank’ campaign that offers a bonus on the pre-paid user’s data quota, and its ‘Xtreme Video 360-degree’ competition where subscribers can experience high-definition videos streamed over a 4G connection.
XL is currently working on a phased deployment of 4G LTE in the 1800MHz band, noting that in October it aims to add Surabaya and Denpasar to its footprint, while November will see the addition of coverage in Jakarta and Bandung. Indeed, to foster the expansion, XL is looking to raise up to IDR1.5 trillion (USD104.90 million) by issuing Islamic bonds (or Sukuk) this year, pending approval from the Financial Services Authority and the Indonesia Stock Exchange. Finance Director Mohamed Adlan says that the bonds will have a tenure of two years, adding that the company has USD1.5 billion in debt, most of which will mature in 2017. The cellco is seeking to convert its USD denominated liabilities to rupiah (IDR) and to extend the payment period – to account for the weakening rupiah and the rising burden that this is causing. It may also sell off some tower assets to trim debt levels arising from the acquisition of Axis Telekom Indonesia last year. The enlarged group has about 10,000 telecommunication towers, including around 1,600 owned by Axis – which has posted losses in the past few years and is saddled with debt totalling USD865 million.