Indonesians will soon be able access their country’s first commercial HSPA+ network, running at peak downlink speeds of 21 Mbps and uplink speeds of 5.8 Mbps, highlighting how fast the telecoms infrastructure is evolving in developing countries that once seemed excluded from the broadband revolution sweeping through Japan, South Korea, Europe and North America.

Indosat, which has almost 29 million customers, said it will launch the network in the greater Jakarta area by the end of the year. The move is significant because up to now HSPA+ networks have mostly been deployed in developed markets in Europe, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Indosat’s existing HSPA network currently serves 500,000 customers in 26 cities in Indonesia, which is the world’s fourth most populous country with more than 225 million people.

For operators, such as Indosat, that have “modern” WCDMA networks (deployed in the past couple of years) upgrading the radio network to HSPA+ is a relatively inexpensive step. And given the general lack of fixed-line broadband and new spectrum for LTE and WiMAX services in most developing countries, many more mobile operators in Africa, Asia and Latin America are likely to turn to HSPA+ technology to meet ever rising demand for Internet access.

But to really fuel a broadband revolution in the developing world, we are going to need plenty more innovation, specifically around taking cost out of each element of the end-to-end solution. The HSPA+ radio networks will need to be bolstered by inexpensive backhaul links capable of carrying high volumes of traffic from the base stations to the operators’ core networks and HSPA+ technology will need to be embedded into very low-cost dongles or inexpensive and robust netbooks that can survive heavy usage in makeshift Internet cafes.

Still, Indosat’s deployment suggests the broadband divide between the developed and developing worlds is beginning to narrow.