XL Axiata sees 5G fixed-wireless as fibre substitute

12 Sep 2019

Mobile World Live reports that to help bolster its national footprint, Indonesian operator XL Axiata is considering using 5G technology as a substitute for fibre in some areas where fixed wireless access (FWA) seems more appropriate. XL’s head of home broadband business, Rob Langton, is cited as saying that 5G would be ‘a great solution’, in some scenarios, and suggested that FWA would be able to complement its FTTH network rollout – given that the latter faces challenges such as the cost/time of securing permits to dig up roads.

Langton went on to suggest though, that in terms of a consumer business model, ‘5G isn’t very important right now’ given the mobile market is dominated by pre-pay users and average ARPUs are typically low. As such, XL Axiata knows it faces an uphill task to entice users to spend more: ‘We learned this with 4G. Customers didn’t have 4G devices for many years and we didn’t have wide coverage. We ended up pulling back on promotions. It’s a learning we will take to 5G: if you can’t add extra value, don’t offer,’ he explained, adding that while 4G ARPUs are now edging up, CAPEX spend on LTE networks had risen too, keeping a lid on profitability. Moreover, the XL official pointed out that, given the uncertainty over which bands the government will ultimately select for 5G, the nascent new generation technology is not expected to become a mainstay – in the consumer segment at least – in the short- to medium-term.

Indonesia, XL Axiata