Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT, known locally as KemKominfo), through the Directorate General of Post and Information (SDPPI), is considering options to allocate additional spectrum for mobile broadband. SDPPI director general Ismail is quoted by IndoTelko as saying that it faces a challenge to resolve the issue of ‘the crisis of spectrum’ shortage in Indonesia, suggesting that an additional 350MHz of new frequencies are needed to meet future demand for internet access. Dr. Ismail says that one measure is likely to be refarming, as well as opening the field to new technologies – in part to help develop network infrastructure in underserved rural communities. Whilst he concedes that coverage is being ramped up in urban areas, the director general claims that other areas face ‘a crisis of mobile infrastructure’ that needs to be addressed.
Mobile network operators have been clamouring for KemKominfo to launch a tender for additional spectrum blocks in the 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz band for 3G services. Telkomsel for one has argued that its ratio of subscribers per megahertz is among the highest in Asia. ‘For us, the additional spectrum is considered not only important but critical to Telkomsel,’ said the cellco’s VP of Technology and Systems, Ivan C. Permana. He adds that without the additional frequency blocks, any attempt to invest in 3G and 4G rollouts in rural areas is likely to be delayed as it focuses instead on trying to deepen coverage in cities and towns. ‘Wastage such as this could have been avoided if the government had already allocated additional spectrum to Telkomsel,’ he notes. According to local sources, there is 10MHz (2100MHz) and 30MHz (2300MHz) unallocated, while the second auction of spectrum refarming is currently awaiting completion at 1900MHz and 800MHz.