The implementation of a government-mandated prepaid SIM registration effort in Indonesia had a heavy impact on the two largest operators in the country, as they shed a collective 69 million connections in 2018.

Indosat Ooredoo was the biggest loser, dropping nearly 45 million connections year-on-year to end December with 65.4 million. It maintained its number two ranking despite its market share declining from 25 per cent in Q4 2017 to 18 per cent, GSMA Intelligence data showed.

Market leader Telkomsel’s connections fell by 25 million to 171 million, yet its market share rose from 45 per cent to 48 per cent.

In contrast, number-three XL Axiata added more than 1 million connections year-on-year, taking its total to 54 million at the end of 2018 and boosting its share from 12 per cent to 15 per cent.

Fitch Ratings said in a research note the impact of SIM registration had eased since Q3 2018 and operators have started to increase tariffs. However, it predicted continued pressure on operators’ bottom-line, citing increased capex budgets related to 4G expansion as a factor.

The agency stated Telkomsel had 50,755 4G base stations at end Q3 2018, XL Axiata 28,028 and Indosat 11,636.