JAKARTA -- Surging data traffic has helped Telekomunikasi Indonesia, the country's largest telecommunications' provider, log double-digit growth in the first nine months of the year, while rival XL Axiata continues to recover from heavy losses last year.
Better known as Telkom, the state-owned company saw net profit surge 27.6% year on year to 14.7 trillion rupiah ($1.1 billion) as revenue from data services -- its leading revenue contributor since the beginning of the year -- rose 37%. Overall revenue grew 14%.
"The significant growth in data, internet, and IT service businesses is in line with the direction the company is taking to transform into a digital telecommunication company," President Alex J. Sinaga said on Wednesday.
Telkom's mobile subsidiary, Telkomsel, remains the largest contributor to group revenue. Partially owned by Singapore Telecommunications, Telkomsel has seen its digital business grow 40% to 22.2 trillion rupiah. This was lifted by a 37% increase in the number of third and fourth generation subscribers for a total of 76 million -- almost half the nearly 164 million Telkomsel has in all.
Telkomsel's mobile broadband product, Telkomsel Flash, has also done well with over 50 million users -- a 33% increase. The parent company's fixed broadband services meanwhile saw users grow 15% to 4.3 million.
XL Axiata, the country's third largest mobile operator by subscribers, booked almost 160 billion rupiah in net profit in the first three quarters compared to 507 billion rupiah in losses in the same period in 2015. The Indonesian unit of Malaysian mobile operator Axiata Group was hit by foreign exchange losses caused by the falling rupiah last year following its acquisition in 2014 of a loss-making Axis Telekom.
XL attributed the improved performance to the rupiah's recovery and a one-off gain from the sale of some of its transmission towers to Profesional Telekomunikasi Indonesia, or Protelindo.
Meanwhile, increased revenue from expanding data traffic offset XL's income loss from its shrink in subscribers to 45 million from over 60 million two years ago.
According to XL, 60% of its subscribers are smartphone users compared with 40% a year ago. Average usage per smartphone subscriber has more than doubled, boosting total data traffic by 146%.
"We continue to focus on improving coverage and quality of our data network as we look to establish ourselves as the mobile internet leader in Indonesia," Dian Siswarini, XL's president and chief executive officer said on Friday.