Indonesia-based Indosat Ooredoo announced plans to almost double its 4G base station network to boost coverage from 81 per cent to 90 per cent of the population by the end of the year, The Jakarta Post reported.
The third-largest mobile operator in the country, which last month said it plans to raise as much as $300 million to fund a sharp increase in capex by selling 3,000 towers, will invest IDR2 trillion ($140 million) to deploy 18,000 new LTE sites to take its total to 40,000.
Ahmad Abdulaziz Al-Neama, who was named CEO on 1 August, said at a press briefing his priority was to expand its 4G network before it started to prepare for 5G service, the newspaper stated.
The government said in 2018 it plans to hold a 5G spectrum auction in 2022, with the country likely to focus on the 3.5GHz band.
Al-Neama replaces Chris Kanter who took the helm in October 2018 and significantly increased its capex budget for 2019 to 2021 to IDR30 trillion to expand 4G coverage outside the island of Java.
The operator was hit hard by a government SIM registration push started in May 2018, with its mobile connections dropping from nearly 110 million in Q4 2017 to 51.1 million in the second quarter of 2019, data from GSMA Intelligence showed. Its market share dropped from 23 per cent to 16 per cent over that period.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back