Indonesian Internet: is there a role for 700MHz?

A new report suggests that Indonesia can have a major role in the spread of digital communications services throughout Southeast Asia if it gives mobile operators access to vital spectrum bands.

The recently published report "Accelerating Indonesia’s Digital Economy: Assigning the 700 MHz Band to Mobile Broadband" is by the GSMA, the trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. It acknowledges that the mobile sector in Indonesia has experienced rapid growth since the start of the century, but proposes that assigning the 700 MHz spectrum band to mobile broadband would deliver additional economic benefits estimated at $11 billion to the Indonesian economy over the period 2020–2030.

While mobile broadband and smartphone adoption are rising, Indonesia’s rural and remote population suffers from a lack of Internet access. This could change with the release of 700 MHz spectrum for mobile use which could, the report argues, play a part in massively enhancing the number of mobile Internet subscribers from around 102 million last year to an estimated 185 million (or 65 per cent penetration) by 2025. In part this is because the technical characteristics of the 700 MHz band would support better coverage with less infrastructure compared to higher bands.

The report also suggests that more could be done in Indonesia to facilitate voluntary network sharing and by offering an appropriate tax regime for operators.

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