Bolt 4G Brings LTE to Indonesia with Public Availability Very Soon
Indonesia is about to enter 4G LTE territory very soon. Under the brand Bolt 4G, PT Internux launched its data-only cellular service ahead of the rest of the industry and on a separate frequency. Bolt 4G is available as a mobile wireless modem service running on 2300MHz covering Jakarta and the surrounding cities.
“At this early stage we are using 1500 BTS towers to provide 4G LTE in Jabodetabek”, Bolt’s chief technology officer Devid Gubiani said at the launch of the service. Jabodetabek is, of course, the term used to refer to the cities of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi. “After 8-9 months of preparation, we’re finally launching the first 4G LTE service in Indonesia”. The company expects to roll out and make use of up to 3500 base transmitter stations across the city by the end of 2015.
The company claims speeds of up to 72MBbps within its coverage areas although during the launch in Sudirman Central Business District in Jakarta, the network managed to hit 87-89Mbps downstream with 8Mbps upload rate.
No voice service no problem
Internux acquired its Broadband Wireless Access license from the Indonesian government in 2009 and due to the nature of the license it is only allowed to operate data services without any voice or text messaging components, although the company claims that it’s not a major concern.
An unnamed representative told DailySocial, “these days, there are plenty of services that deliver voice and text messaging through applications such as Kakao, so we believe that those who value high speed data will not be too worried about not having them, they can use those apps”.
That is of course, exactly the perspective expected from the company. After all, there are currently no mobile phone or tablet devices in the country certified to operate in the 2300MHz frequency and with Bolt’s service being available only on modems, at least at this stage, people still have to use their existing mobile phones which of course has the traditional analog voice and text messaging capabilities.
The company has no plans to expand beyond the current coverage area due to the limitation of its license terms but it is adamant that the 30 million mobile customers across Jabodetabek are sufficient. Internux head of marketing Liryawati said the company aims to pull in 10 million customers in the first year of operation, all from the Jabodetabek area.
On the use of LTE TDD
The frequency that Bolt operates in has been declared as technology neutral by the Indonesian government, which means that even though initially Internux was a WiMAX provider, it is now free to operate LTE on that same frequency. The company has an allocated 15MHz band in which to deliver its service. Ideally LTE requires a 20MHz spread to provide a stable and consistent service, but the company claims that it can operate with only 15MHz. A company representative did not comment on whether it will seek to add the additional five megahertz.
The same representative said, “we are using a technology that is supported by Qualcomm and we expect future mobile device chips from Qualcomm to include all LTE modes, which will work regardless of the frequency spectrum. We are confident in the use of LTE TDD because it has already been tested and rolled out in major markets by Bharti Airtel in India, China Mobile in of course, China, and also SoftBank in Japan.”
As far as mobile devices are concerned, “the iPhone 5S and 5C as well as certain Samsung phones are compatible with the technology and the frequency but keep in mind that Apple requires its 4G partners to be certified before it will allow its devices to run on their networks. It wants to make sure the service quality is sufficient”.
Additionally, Australia’s Optus announced back in September that its 4G Plus LTE network runs on the same 2300MHz frequency, also using LTE TDD technology. Optus 4G Plus is an expansion of the company’s existing 4G network which uses the 1800MHz frequency.
Bolt’s mobile wireless routers will retail for IDR 299,000 (USD 27) which includes 8GB of mobile data worth IDR 25,000, for the first million customers. After the first million, the modems will cost IDR 800,000. Bolt offers both prepaid and post paid services. The company is still rolling out the modems to retail channels and expects public availability very soon. Its website, which is required for SIM card registration and activation of the service, is currently not yet ready.
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