Fri, 01 Dec 2000

Telkom subsidiary to provide VoIP service

JAKARTA (JP): State-owned domestic telephone operator PT Telkom introduced a new service on Thursday that will enable voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) providers to use its network.

The Telkom Domestic Clearinghouse (TDC), established jointly by Telkom and PT Vasindo TeleInternet under a profit-sharing scheme, will provide Internet Protocol Bandwidth for Internet Service Providers (ISP) to allow internet users use the VoIP service, TDC director of operations Bambang Jokoraharjo explained.

He added that calling card operators and telecommunications kiosks could also provide the VoIP service to the public through TDC.

Bambang said that next year TDC would set up operations in eight major cities in Indonesia and would gradually expand to 26 provincial capitals throughout the country.

The first eight cities to be served were Jakarta, Surabaya in East Java, Denpasar in Bali, Medan in North Sumatra, Makasar in South Sulawesi, Bandung in West Java, Semarang in Central Java, and Yogyakarta, he said.

Denny Hutapea, one of TDC's directors, said that operations in the first eight cities would involve an investment of approximately $3 million to $4 million, and over the first three to four years of operations investment would total between $10 million to $20 million.

"Telkom realizes that in a situation where people are still recovering from the impact of the economic crisis, they need a cheaper form of communication, such as that which VoIP will provide," Bambang said.

He explained that one of the reasons why VoIP was cheaper than conventional telephone calls was because one telephone line, connected through Internet protocol, could service up to eight calls at the same time.

"Of course the quality, then, would not be as good as calls made via Telkom's conventional lines, but it can be much cheaper," Bambang said.

Denny Hutapea claimed that with VoIP, a domestic long-distance call to Surabaya from Jakarta could cost as little as Rp 1,000 (US$1.05) per minute.

"We must admit that right now Indonesia's telephone charges are some of the most expensive in the world. It's a lot cheaper to call into the country than out of it," he said.

TDC, however, would not be providing services for VoIP, but would charge its customers (VoIP providers) a per-minute commission.

"We are here to provide the backbone, the toll road so to speak, for others to develop the service," Bambang said, adding that there were about 100 ISPs currently operating in the country.

Denny said that for local connections, TDC would use the Telkom network, while for international connections it would cooperate with international telecommunications operators like AT&T, ITXC, and Rapidlink.

"For international connectivity we could use satellites, frame relay, or international private leased circuits (IPLC)," he said. (tnt)