The number of broadband subscribers in Indonesia will almost double this year to 14.12 million and will reach 46.1 million in 2013 as more people access the Internet on wireless handsets, mobile telecom firm PT Indosat predicted on Thursday.
Indonesia had 7.36 million broadband subscribers at the end of last year.
“The broadband market will continue to grow in support of wireless access technologies, content, and handsets,” Indosat marketing director Guntur S Siboro said.
Broadband subscribers are still a very small percentage of Indonesia’s 165 million mobile-phone subscribers, creating a huge opportunity for telecom providers.
About 70 to 80 percent of current broadband subscribers access the Internet via small-screen devices such as mobile phones, Guntur said.
Wireless broadband access is currently supported by technologies such as 3G and Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+).
So-called fourth-generation wireless technologies such as WiMax and Long Term Evolution promise to deliver much faster download speeds, giving mobile operators more opportunities to boost data usage.
Dedi Suherman, PT Telekomunikasi Selular’s general manager of strategic technology planning, said competition for mobile data space would be fierce with Indonesia’s 11 mobile-phone operators all vying for a slice of the action.
The nation’s large, young and Internet-savvy population means there is massive potential, he said.
But mobile operators need to keep up with the latest wireless broadband technologies if they want to be competitive, Dedi said.
LTE, a new high-performance wireless interface for cellular communication systems, would enable download speeds of up to 100 megabytes per second, about six times the current 3G speeds, he said.
Telkomsel has already tested LTE and will launch a consumer trial of the technology next year, Dedi said.
Meanwhile, Telkomsel’s rival, PT XL Axiata, is planning to test its LTE service in the second half of this year.
Telkomsel and XL Axiata both aim to generate more than 10 percent of their revenue from wireless data services this year, up from 7 and 6 percent, respectively, last year.
“It is clear that the future of the Internet in Indonesia is the mobile Internet,” Guntur said.