Tue, 09 Aug 1994

Batam has adequate supply of telephone lines: Telkom

BATAM ISLAND, Riau (JP): Batam, an island developed as an export processing zone and tourist resort in the Riau archipelago, has enough telephone lines to support rapid growth of businesses, a telecommunications executive said.

Batam has 12,400 telephone lines which are now ready for marketing, out of the 25,500 lines that Telkom has installed, the chief of the Batam office of PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), Totok Subiyanto, said here yesterday.

He told reporters after attending a ceremony marking the cooperation agreement between Telkom and Bank Internasional Indonesia (BII) that Telkom operates telephone exchanges with a total capacity of 19,500 lines and a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) facility with a capacity of 6,000 lines on the island, which is located a mere 20 kilometers south of Singapore.

Because Telkom has thus far sold only 12,800 fixed telephone lines and 300 lines of the GSM facility, 6,700 fixed telephone lines and 5,700 mobile telephone lines are now available for marketing, he said.

He explained that Telkom will expand its transmission networks to increase sales of its fixed telephone lines and offer GSM lines to business executives operating in Batam and its surrounding islands.


"We expect to complete construction of the telecommunications networks in early 1995," he said.

Some 2,000 companies and families are now eagerly awaiting telephone lines in the Batam area.

Batam and its surrounding islands are part of the Triangle of Growth which also includes Singapore and Malaysia's Johor state. Industrial estates and international tourist resorts have been established on Batam and Bintan Islands. Batam's airport is also being expanded to accommodate wide-body aircraft.

Totok acknowledged that sales of the GSM lines, which started in early July, have been slow due to technical reasons.

The GSM facility in Batam is the first of its kind to be developed in Indonesia. The second GSM facility is now being established in Jakarta by PT Satelindo, a joint venture of Telkom, PT Indosat, the state-owned international telecommunications company, and PT Bima Graha, a subsidiary of PT Bimantara Citra.

Totok said that because Telkom competes with firms in Singapore, the costs of installing telephone lines and services in Batam are priced competitively.

The installation fee for a fixed-telephone line, for example, is set at Rp 500,000, as compared to Rp 1 million in Jakarta and Rp 750,000 in Bandung, West Java.

An executive of Ericsson of Sweden, Sumarlis, said that a hand-held GSM telephone in Batam sells for about Rp 2 million (US$921), as compared to S$2,400 ($1,548) for a similar product in Singapore.

Nine brands of cellular telephones -- Ericsson, Setelco, Siemens, Pioneer, Philips, Audio Fox, Bosch, Hagenuk and Motorola -- are sold in Batam.


Telkom's director of finance, Muljohardjoko, who inked the agreement with BII's vice president, Hidajat Tjandradjaja, said that Telkom's subscribers can now pay for telecommunications services by Visa or Mastercard.

"The cooperation is meant to facilitate payments for telephone line installation and other services. An expanded number of counters will accept credit cards," Muljohardjoko said.

He added that under the agreement, Telkom will pay BII for the credit card service. He declined to elaborate on the fees.

Currently 12 payment points serve customers in Batam. (02)