LIVE FROM LTE ASIA 2014: Upstart Bolt Super4G has stormed into the Indonesian market with 4G data services and has gone from zero to 750,000 customers in just ten months. More than 90 per cent are Mi-Fi (personal hotspot) users.
The company, which has a licence to operate only in greater Jakarta and Banten, started services in December after deploying a TD-LTE network.
Bolt CTO Devid Gubiani told the audience at LTE Asia yesterday that key to its growth, with just 2x10MHz of spectrum, was its network architecture comprising of a traditional host layer of base stations and a boost layer of small cells (10-15 meters high), with 98 per cent connected by fibre.
The boost layer, he said, focuses on in-build coverage and boosting speeds to 40Mb/s. “And since we use a 2G network we don’t own for voice, there is no trade off between voice and data. Users need a separate SIM card for voice.”
Even with the right number of base stations and sufficient spectrum, he said “you can’t deliver 15-20Mb/s everywhere. Our average is about 12.5Mb/s.”
He claimed Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is the first in the world to have LTE coverage.
In August Bolt introduced the first two 4G smartphones to the market. The handsets retail for $150 and $250. He said now there is little difference between the technical specs of 3G and 4G handsets, which are about the same price.
Its launch hasn’t gone entirely smoothly. The problem it faced was actually faster uptake than planned so in March, when its user base approached 400,000, its network started to get congested.
The average usage is 400Mb per day, but Gubiani said big users are consuming 2Gb a day.
To deal with the soaring demand, Bolt implemented dual-carrier technology with an additional 2x5MHz of spectrum and more importantly added another 300 base stations to its existing 1,800. He said the company hadn’t planned to deploy those until June.
He acknowledged the company can’t continue to add spectrum so it is concentrating on rolling out more small cells.
Gubiani admitted it will soon reach the limits of the mobile broadband-only model and is preparing to launch VoLTE and video broadcast.
Indonesia is one of the most competitive mobile markets in the world, with 312 million connections and a SIM penetration of 124 per cent. It has seven mobile players. Telkomsel is the market leader with a 45 per cent market share, following by XL Axiata (21 per cent), Indosat (18 per cent) and 3 Hutchison (14 per cent), according to GSMA Intelligence.