Indonesia’s top five mobile operators have launched 4G service on 1.8GHz networks in selected cities and regions over the last week.
The operators – Telkomsel, Indosat, XL Axiata, 3 Hutchison and Smartfren – together have a 99 per cent share of the country’s cellular market.
Both market leader Telkomsel and number 3 XL first launched 4G service on the 900MHz band in Q4. Upstart Bolt Super4G has 1.4 million 4G customers, but more than 90 per cent are mobile WiFi users.
Telkomsel initially launched in Jakarta and Bali and has since expanded service to Bandung, Surabaya and Medan. It had more than 540,000 4G connections at the end of Q2, while XL had just over 220,000, according to GSMA Intelligence. 4G users account for less than 0.5 per cent of their total mobile connections.
The 1.8GHz rollouts come after the government opened up that band for 4G and is the first 4G service offered by the country’s second largest operator Indosat, number 4 player 3 Hutchison as well as Smartfren, which has just a 4 per cent market share.
XL’s market share has dropped 5 points to 16 per cent over the past two quarters, while Indosat has seen its share rise from 18 per cent to 21 per cent and 3’s has increased from 11 per cent to 14 per cent over the same period.
XL said in March it expects 4G customers to account for less than 10 per cent of its total data users at the end of the year because of the limited supply of affordable 4G smartphones.
Meanwhile, Bolt Super4G has set aside a capex budget of $30 million to add 1,000 base stations in the greater Jakarta area and Medan. It currently has about 3,000 base stations, the Jakarta Post reported.
The company launched 4G service in December 2013 and aims to expand its user base to 2.5 million by the end of the year.