Smartfren 4G LTE rollout reaches 85 cities

27 Jan 2016

Indonesian CDMA operator-turned-LTE provider Telekom PT SmartFren (Smartfren) has successfully deployed its LTE network in 85 cities across the country as it ramps up efforts to take a bigger share of the fledgling 4G market there. Earlier this month, TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that as part of its 2016 strategy plan, Smartfren is targeting signing five million LTE subscribers by the end of this year and expanding its service coverage from the 22 covered at end-2015. At the time, company president Merza Fachys confirmed that the carrier had sufficient financial reserves to meet its rollout targets, adding that it was also working with a number of smartphone manufacturers – such as Lenovo – to improve 4G penetration across the country. The carrier is working with Nokia Networks and ZTE, with the former developing base transceiver stations (BTS) in Greater Jakarta, West Java and Sumatra, and the latter handling Smartfren’s infrastructure rollout across Central Java, East Java, Bali, Lombok, Kalimantan and Sulawesi.

Smartfren currently has around 13 million mobile subscribers on its books (CDMA and LTE), of which one million are reportedly on the new 4G network, signed up to products such as its ‘4G LTE Internet’ tariff, comprising an Andromax MiFi 4G LTE modem and ‘True Unlimited Internet 4G LTE’ service priced from IDR25,000 (USD1.81). The operator’s 4G network uses a combination of frequency division duplex (FDD) technology in the 850MHz band, and time division duplex (TDD) running at 2300MHz, to allow wider network coverage and fast internet access.

TeleGeography notes that Smartfren booked a net loss of IDR1.341 trillion in the nine months ended 30 September 2015 on the back of an IDR942.657 billion loss in the corresponding year-earlier period. The operator said that its inability to continue 2014’s double-digit revenue growth had weighed heavily on its bottom line. The publicly listed telco booked turnover of IDR2.274 trillion in the January-September 2015 period, up 3.8% when compared to the IDR2.191 trillion figure it reported in 9M14. Of the total, IDR1.843 trillion was derived from data services, IDR217.618 billion from voice call services and IDR107.844 billion from SMS messaging. Operating costs, however, climbed to IDR3.057 trillion in the period under review, up from IDR2.914 trillion a year ago, and served to push operating losses higher to IDR783.094 billion from IDR723.521 billion.