Hard on the heels of last week’s news that Axiata and Telenor have, for now, dropped the proposed merger of their Asian businesses comes a more upbeat announcement in the form of encouraging figures from mobile operator XL Axiata.
According to Yessie D Yoseta, its chief technology director, XL Axiata has completed 90 per cent of its planned network infrastructure development for 2019 in the first six months of this year. Some 19,000 base stations have been deployed in the first half of the year, the company says, the majority outside Java (the most populous part of Indonesia). According to the company, this has taken LTE coverage to about 90 per cent, covering 408 cities.
The next target is 135,000 base stations on air in more than 440 cities by the end of this year. That means covering 95 per cent of the country’s roughly 260 million inhabitants. The national Palapa Ring network (already deployed in western and central Indonesia) will help to supply fibre optic backhaul.
It’s an impressive feat given the many islands and dispersed population an operator has to reach to connect much of Indonesia. However, with 5G, and the vast number of base stations required to enable it, on the way, coverage won’t be getting any easier. That said, the operator is already gearing up for 5G in this vast country; in March XL Axiata selected Ericsson to supply a 5G-ready transport network over the next three years.