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Mobile Market in Indonesia Continues its Strong Upward Trajectory
There has been considerable energy and turmoil in Indonesia’s telecom sector over the last decade or so. Growth, both in subscriber numbers and in revenues, has been strong and, more importantly, there are signs that the changes in the regulatory regime and operator restructuring are starting to have a positive effect on the industry. The mobile market has been especially positive. There was a good response to the recent launch of 4G/LTE services.
Fixed broadband internet services, although still very much in their infancy, had become a very significant proportion (around 60%) of the fixed internet subscriber base. The ongoing effort to expand internet access around the country was looking as if it would be impeded by inferior telecommunications infrastructure. This has changed dramatically with the advent of mobile broadband services; the rapid roll-out of the wireless broadband, together with the increasing take up of smartphones, has totally changed the market. Indeed, the country has enormous potential as an online market, with the local population spending a lot of time on line.
Whilst broadband use has grown on the back of a surge in mobile broadband subscriptions and smartphone sales, fixed internet connections remained relatively low, despite broadband development having accelerated. Fixed broadband penetration was still under 2% by 2016 and broadband household penetration was a low 5%.
Invigorated by the highly successful mobile segment on the back of increased competition in the marketplace, the country’s telecom industry has found a new dynamic. The all-important national backbone network is taking shape and on the service side the rapid increase in mobile broadband subscriptions and smartphone take up has been remarkable. However, there had been some signs that the government was hesitating in its efforts to restructure the industry.
The mobile market in Indonesia has experienced an exceptional run of boom years. At the same time the mobile operators have been busily positioning themselves as growth rates start to moderate and competition becomes more intense. Market leader Telkomsel continues to maintain a huge presence despite the increased pressure from the competition. To expand their respective customer bases and build market share, all the operators must offer competitive prices.
Indonesia’s mobile market has grown strongly in recent years, with the number of subscribers passing 320 million coming into 2016. Despite high penetration, there is still considerable opportunity for expansion in Indonesia’s mobile market when compared with some of its Asian neighbours.
With much happening that is positive, a range of structural and economic issues must also be confronted if the local telecom industry is to flourish and cope with the expanding market. For strong growth to continue, the sector must take advantage of the government’s regulatory changes and continue to find ways of attracting foreign capital into the market place. The crowded mobile operator market has at least started on the inevitable rationalisation process. As for the consumers, value-added services have become important as 4G/LTE services are being rolled out, underpinning the major shift to data in the marketplace. Industry consolidation is more likely to have a positive impact on the local telco sector as it will reduce the overcapacity in the market and bring more stability to data tariffs. High smartphone usage is in turn being driven by increased affordability of smartphones in the local market.
Indonesia’s economy continued its run of strong positive growth, with GDP increasing by 4%-6% in 2015/16.
The mobile market in Indonesia has been growing strongly, but at a more modest rate than previously (less than 10% annually).
The fixed line market (wireless and wireline) continues to suffer setbacks with a rapidly declining subscriber base.
Construction of the US$1.5 billion Palapa Ring optical fibre cable project is continuing.
Government initiative on national infrastructure to push fibre and 4G coverage nationwide.
Market leader Telkomsel was continuing to dominate the mobile market, with its mobile subscriber base of around 45% market share.
Having acquired rival operator Axis, by early 2015 Axiata had adopted a dual-brand strategy, promoting both XL and Axis equally.
Social networking continues to be very popular in Indonesia;
Investment in data centres has started to take off;
There are early signs of adoption of cloud computing by local industry;
Both Telkom and Indosat have been expanding the number of WiFi hotspots around the country;
Google has been actively involved in an Indonesian startup incubation program.
Companies mentioned in this report:
PT Telkom; PT Indosat; Bakrie Telecom (BTEL); Qatar Telecom (QTel); PT Satelindo; SingTel; ThaiCom. PT Telkomsel, Mobile-8, Smart Telecom, PT Bakrie Telecom SingTel, Temasek; PT Sarana Menara Nusantara; PT Tower Bersama.
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