Sinar Mas Group-backed Telekom PT SmartFren (Smartfren) plans to invest USD100 million for LTE network expansion over the next year, with the Indonesian CDMA operator-turned-LTE provider’s finance director Antony Susilo saying that over the next twelve months it will strengthen and develop the cellco’s coverage – which already stands at 200 cities and towns. ‘The funds will be from an undisbursed existing loan from China Development Bank (CDB),’ Susilo says, noting that while Smartfren has successfully upgraded its CDMA network to LTE, it will not ditch the older system entirely – at least not this year.
According to CommsUpdate, in April this year SmartFren claimed to have boosted LTE coverage to 188 urban centres, more than doubling the 85 cities served in January that year. At the time, however, the operator admitted that subscriber take-up had not been proportional to the number of cities covered, blaming issues such as the availability of suitable handsets for the slow growth. In late-January 2016, Smartfren had around 13 million mobile subscribers on its books (CDMA and LTE), of which one million were 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. Smartfren reported revenue of IDR751 billion in Q1 2016, up slightly from IDR748 billion in the corresponding period of 2015. It also reported narrowing its net loss to IDR265 billion from IDR551 billion in Q1 2015.