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Economy

Indonesian mobile carriers hope network upgrades draw data customers

JAKARTA -- Indonesia is shooting for a quick expansion of fourth-generation mobile Internet services in 2015, hoping to nurture the growing smartphone market. 

     Three mobile carriers have announced their readiness to implement 4G Long-Term Evolution, or LTE, services across the country: Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel), a unit of Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom); XL Axiata; and Indosat. Amid falling revenues from voice calls, the companies aim to gain data-driven subscriptions by investing in next-generation networks. The services will start out on the 900 megahertz spectrum.

     In September, then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono released a national broadband plan for 2014 to 2019 as part of the government's growth strategy. Based on this plan, the government intends to assign 900MHz, 1,800MHz, 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz frequencies for 4G.

     Rudiantara, the minister of communication and information technology, announced that Telkom Indonesia had been granted permission to implement 4G LTE services. This allowed Telkomsel to launch 4G in Jakarta and Bali on Dec. 8.

     XL Axiata followed suit with a launch on Friday. The country's No. 2 player said it is awaiting the green light from authorities to run 4G through its 1,800MHz spectrum.

     Third-ranked Indosat on Monday launched Super 4G-LTE in Jakarta and will offer the service in Yogyakarta and Bali in January. 

     Telkom will spend up to $2 billion in 2015, with half of the earmarked money to go toward Telkomsel's business expansion, including the 4G network.

     The government hopes the network upgrades will have a knock-on effect on other industries. Rudiantara has asked Indonesian handset makers to produce LTE-compatible smartphones domestically.

Nikkei staff writer Wataru Suzuki in Jakarta contributed to this story.

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