Thu, 27 May 2004

Telkom to ring in code changes next year

Yuli Tri Suwarni, Bandung

With PT Indosat entering the country's fixed-line telecommunications market, which was monopolized by PT Telkom for decades, telephone access codes nationwide will undergo significant changes starting April 1 next year.

Telkom spokesperson Mundarwiyarso said on Wednesday that new three-digit codes would be added to existing codes. The new three digit codes are 011 for fixed lines operated by PT Indosat and 017 for those operated by PT Telkom.

These codes will replace the current 0 that precedes area code numbers. For example, the 0 in the 021 Jakarta area code becomes 011 or 017, and is then followed by 21.

These changes are mandated by Ministerial Decree No.28/2004 issued on May 13 by former Minister of Communications Agum Gumelar. The decree stipulates the nationwide use of three-digit codes for all providers of international and long-distance connections.

Mundar admitted that the new code system might cause initial difficulties for telephone users.

"We only have one year to familiarize the public with these new codes. It's not enough but there's nothing we can do. Ideally, two years should be allowed for this," he said.

Mundar added that Telkom had proposed a simpler code structure using a blocking system.

"For instance, codes from 250 to 255 would be Telkom's and codes over 256 Indosat's. This would be much simpler and less confusing for subscribers," he said.

To change the codes, Telkom will have to make the necessary adjustments at its 2,000 automatic telephone exchanges all over the country.

Mundar also complained about the Rp 478 billion (US$51 million) being paid to Telkom by the government in compensation for early termination of the Telkom monopoly, saying that the money was not enough to make the necessary adjustments in the exchanges and familiarize the public with the new codes.

Concerning the interconnection fees payable by Indosat to Telkom, Mundar said that these were still being negotiated.

Indosat has to pay interconnection fees to Telkom for using the Telkom network.