Indonesian regulator: “By 2015 half of the population will be connected to the internet”

Heru Sutadi is Commissioner at the Indonesian Telecom Regulatory Authority

Heru Sutadi is Commissioner at the Indonesian Telecom Regulatory Authority. He is speaking on Day One of the Broadband Asia 2012 conference on the 15th-16th May 2012, KL Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ahead of the upcoming conference talks to him about the challenges facing service providers and operators in rolling out broadband in the country.

What is the core technology your network is currently based on and what are the development plans for the future?

We use two kinds of technology, fibre-optic cable and wireless to provide broadband in Indonesia. Mostly we use 3G/HSPA-based wireless broadband technology and Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum at 2.3 GHZ due to it being easier to implement in open and widespread areas such as Indonesia. In some cities we have already provided FTTH with fibre optic. We also use fibre optic for  our backbone. In the future we plan to build a fibre optic backbone in the Eastern part of Indonesia. For wireless access we have allocated a second carrier and are preparing for a third that will be a 3G-based operator. The 2.3GHz spectrum in the county is technology neutral so it’s just a matter of time matter for Indonesia to adopt LTE at this frequency.

What major developments have there been for the broadband industry in your region over the past year?

Last year we allocated a second carrier as a 3G operator, so there are now five operators with 2 x 10MHz in order to provide broadband. We have provided broadband in 5000 districts as part of our broadband services obligation. We hope that by 2015 all 72,000 villages will have broadband connection and half of the Indonesian population (119milion) will be connected to the internet as per our World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) commitments.

Speed is often touted as a priority, but some view the major challenge to be coverage and network capacity. What is your view?

Our priorities are coverage and network speed. The first is coverage. We want broadband to cover all of Indonesia with a minimum standard rate of 256kbps. After that, step-by-step we will increase that rate. Based on user demand, in big cities like Jakarta, we are already looking at how to increase speed levels.

Is FTTH really necessary for businesses and consumers and what are the stumbling blocks to rolling it out?

In some cities: Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, some homes are already connected to fibre optic. But not all areas can be serviced with FTTH due to Indonesia’s very large, very unique geography. We are separated by the sea and because of that it’s often not easy to lay cables to homes, so in these situations wireless network are easier implement

To what extent can fixed wireless connections help in the roll out of broadband connectivity?

Wireless connections are helpful for the Indonesian situation. Maybe we can say that wireless broadband is our priority rather cable broadband. That said, in some areas or city we provide broadband by fibre optic cable due to it being more stable and able to deliver more speed than wireless.

Will the dominance of mobile connectivity limit the growth opportunities for fixed line connections?

Between mobile connectivity and fixed line they will complement each other. Personal connectivity with a smartphone is the wireless market, but for home that’s a fixed line market and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

What is your stance on bandwidth caps, line throttling and traffic management?

Actually, we do not regulate these things, but some consumers have already sent complaints to us, so we have a plan to regulate QoS for data connections. From our Consumer Protection law, providers must give clear and complete information in their ads, so consumers know the terms and condition when they are using data connections.

What are the trends in terms of data traffic and how is it affecting your network expansion plans?

Data traffic is increasing due to increasing use of smarphones such as Blackberry, which holds the top position in Asia Pacific, the iPhone, or tablets. Facebook and Twitter use contribute significantly and that affecting expansion of broadband network in Indonesia.

What are the biggest challenges you expect to be face over the next 12 months?

Our big challenges will be especially related to spectrum frequency as some 3G operators feel that 2x10MHz is not enough. Other issues are how to provide backbone connections to connect Western and Eastern Indonesia, how to build internet exchanges in five big islands and how to connect the National Internet Exchange to TIER-1, so not all traffic needs to go through Jakarta.

Why is your attendance at this event so important for you and your company and what aspect are you looking forward to most?

From this event I hope I can get new information regarding latest the broadband technology. I hope to share experiences with other delegates on how other countries implement and deliver broadband to its citizens with all problem and challenges and how to best solve them.

The Broadband Asia 2012 conference is taking place on the 15th-16th May 2012, KL Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Go to the website now to register your interest.

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