CK Hutchison mobile subsidiary Hutchison 3 Indonesia (Tri) has launched its commercial 4G service in six cities in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Java and Bali, and says it hopes that what it calls the ‘millennial generation’ will be at the forefront of people signing up to its LTE tariff plans. The cellco’s president Randeep Singh Sekhon confirmed the launch yesterday (30 March), which saw the operator switching on its 4G network in the cities of Batam, Pontianak, Makassar, Jakarta, Bandung and Denpasar. ‘We now have 55.5 million mobile customers which, based on our independently commissioned research, concluded that around 70% are aged 15 to 25 years. This is the next generation who will make the digital economy as one of the motors of growth of Indonesia’s development,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the cellco’s deputy director Muhammad Danny Buldansyah notes that 4G smartphone take-up is on the increase. Around 7% of all Tri users currently own a suitable device, compared with 2% to 3% last year. As such, Tri is confident of signing up three million LTE subscribers in the short term. It has already deployed approximately 1,000 eNodeB (4G BTS) to support the new service, out of a total 39,054 BTS in service. ‘Our network is already modern, we could switch to 4G BTS-ready anywhere in a matter of hours. The six cities we chose were because the ecosystem is ripe there. If we see that there is demand, we will instantly turn on our 4G service in new locations,’ he explained. That being said, the executive admitted that Tri Indonesia is rolling out 4G with a limited block of frequency at 1800MHz. The cellco holds 10MHz blocks in each of the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands but says it is currently only using 5MHz for 4G due to the capacity it still needs to service voice/SMS services. ‘I predict that with 5MHz, we can still serve 4G for the next two years,’ he said, adding: ‘It is our hope that the government will open up a tender for 3G frequencies, in which case our capacity constraints will be neutralised immediately.’