Indonesia’s Indosat Ooredoo has revealed plans to invest IDR2 trillion (USD140.5 million) this year to expand its nationwide 4G network coverage to 90% of the population by the end of the year, up from 81% currently. The cellco’s COO Vikram Sinha reportedly said that to achieve this, the company will bolster its network with an additional 18,000 base transceiver stations (BTS), primarily in areas outside of Java, to support the expansion. Further, the operator’s CEO Ahmad Abdulaziz Al-Neama told journalists that the 4G rollout programme will help consolidate its position ahead of the deployment of 5G technologies. ‘My main priority is to grow and accelerate 4G services,’ Al-Neama is quoted by The Jakarta Post as saying, adding that it was ‘too soon’ to say whether Indonesia was ready for 5G. Al-Neama did confirm, however, that Indosat would pursue 5G frequencies if/when the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT, known locally as KemKominfo) auctions off suitable spectrum. Last year, the MCIT suggested that it will not look to auction 5G frequencies until 2022.
Currently, Indosat Ooredoo operates 22,015 4G BTS in 422 cities. Its parent group reported that the Indonesian cellco’s subscriber base stood at 56.7 million at 30 June 2019, having begun a recovery from a low point of 53.3 million the previous quarter (after falling 44.6% in the twelve months to end-March 2019 due to the impact of the government-imposed mobile phone registration scheme).