As Indonesia’s Mobile Speeds Accelerate, Access Remains a Barrier to Many

Sunday 5 Sep 2021 | Associate Member | Member Press Release | Member Resources |

Indonesia represents a fascinating technical challenge for mobile operators working to advance the country to 5G when parts are still only receiving 3G. With over 17,000 islands — and over half the population living on Java — this nation of over 270 million people represents stark mobile challenges of urban density and rural remoteness. We used data from Speedtest Intelligence® to evaluate mobile performance in Indonesia during Q1-Q2 2021. Our analysis examines mobile speeds and 4G Availability at the country-and provider-level and includes a performance snapshot of each of Indonesia’s 34 provinces. We also used Ookla’s Cell Analytics to spotlight how users’ mobile experience compares between operators in a few key locations in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s mobile performance lags behind most trading partners, but speeds are improving

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Comparing Indonesia’s major trading partners, including ASEAN countries and India and South Korea, mobile download speed varied widely between countries over the last year. We have excluded Myanmar from this analysis due to the political situation. South Korea had the highest median download speed during Q2 2021 at 84.12 Mbps, according to Speedtest Intelligence. Singapore was second at 57.42 Mbps, followed by Brunei (47.02 Mbps). Indonesia showed one of the slowest median download speeds on the list at 14.78 Mbps. Only Cambodia and India were slower at 13.96 Mbps and 10.56 Mbps, respectively. Indonesia saw a gain of 4.23 Mbps in median download speed from 10.55 Mbps in Q2 2020 to 14.78 Mbps Q2 2021.

Indonesia’s 4G Availability ranked fourth compared to major trading partners

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Speedtest Intelligence shows every country we surveyed had 4G Availability — the percent of users on all devices that spend the majority of their time on 4G and above, both roaming and on-network — near or above 80% during Q2 2021. South Korea rose to the top at 95.7% 4G Availability during Q2 2021, followed by Singapore (93.9%) and India (91.7%). Indonesia was fourth at 89.2%.

Telkomsel was the fastest and top-rated mobile provider in Indonesia during Q1-Q2 2021, SmartFren had the highest 4G Availability

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Indonesia’s fastest mobile operator during Q1-Q2 2021 was Telkomsel with the fastest median download speed (15.64 Mbps) and upload speed (10.55 Mbps). XL was second for both download and upload speeds, followed by IM3 Ooredoo, 3 and Smartfren.

According to Speedtest Consumer Sentiment Telkomsel also had the top-rated Net Promoter Score (NPS) at -12.52. 3 was second for this measure of customer satisfaction with their mobile operator, IM3 Ooredoo third, XL fourth and Smartfren fifth.

The race for the best 4G Availability was competitive in Indonesia during Q1-Q2 2021 with every top provider achieving at least 87%. However, SmartFren — which operates exclusively on 4G LTE — achieved the highest 4G Availability at 94.5%. IM3 Ooredoo was next at 90.9%, followed by 3 (89.2%), XL (87.8%) and Telkomsel (87.3%).

Mobile performance and 4G Availability varied widely across Indonesia’s rural and urban provinces during Q1-Q2 2021

23 of Indonesia’s 34 provinces experienced median download speeds between 12.00 Mbps and 19.00 Mbps during Q1-Q2 2021

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Speedtest Intelligence reveals there was no statistically significant fastest province in Indonesia during Q1-Q2 2021, though four provinces had median mobile download speeds greater than 19.00 Mbps: West Papua (20.14 Mbps), Bali (19.68 Mbps), Maluku (19.43 Mbps) and Gorontalo (19.32 Mbps). East Kalimantan — home to Indonesia’s future new capital — followed at 18.48 Mbps.

During Q2 2021, there was no statistically slowest province, though four provinces had median mobile download speeds less than 11.00 Mbps: Jambi (9.20 Mbps), Lampung (9.29 Mbps), Central Kalimantan (9.90 Mbps) and West Sumatra (10.64 Mbps).

There was also no province with the statistically fastest median mobile upload speed, though four provinces had median upload speeds greater than 12.50 Mbps: West Papua (12.97 Mbps), East Nusa Tenggara (12.89 Mbps), Bangka Belitung Islands (12.84 Mbps) and Bali (12.55 Mbps). Every province had a median upload speed greater than 7.50 Mbps, except West Sumatra (6.92 Mbps), Central Java (7.34 Mbps) and North Maluku (7.36 Mbps).

27 of Indonesia’s provinces showed 4G Availability above 84% during Q1-Q2 2021

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Much like Indonesia’s mobile performance, Indonesia’s 4G Availability varied from province to province during Q1-Q2 2021. All but 10 provinces achieved 4G Availability between 84.0% and 89.0%, with four provinces standing out from the rest of the country by achieving 4G Availability greater than 89.0%: Riau Islands (90.5%), West Java (89.8%), Banten (89.7%) and Bali (88.7%). Provinces with higher urban density often displayed higher 4G Availability, but that wasn’t always the case during Q1-Q2 2021, with less urban and less populated provinces like Aceh achieving 88.5% 4G Availability.

North Kalimantan — the least populous province in Indonesia — had the lowest 4G Availability of any province during Q1-Q2 2021 at 79.7%. West Sulawesi had the second lowest 4G Availability at 80.1%. Central Kalimantan, North Maluku and West Kalimantan were the remaining provinces with 4G Availability under 83.0%.

Indoor and outdoor signal strength varies widely by location and provider

We identified several key locations in Indonesia to highlight mobile performance using Cell Analytics data from Q1-Q2 2021. Each of these maps shows the best provider for indoor and outdoor 4G RSRP signal strength in a given area, as well as provider-level 4G RSRP signal strength. For indoor and outdoor 4G RSRP maps, Cell Analytics identifies the best mobile network provider for a given area or building by color if there is a statistically significant winner. Provider-level maps show the performance of individual providers for a given area, with pink and red showing a strong signal and blue indicating a weak signal.

Monas — Gambir, Jakarta

Situated in the heart of Central Jakarta, Monas stands 137 meters tall and is a monument to Indonesia’s struggle for independence. With nearly 11 million people in Jakarta — and over 900,000 people in the roughly 18.5 square mile Special Capital Region alone — knowing if you can rely on your mobile operator is incredibly important.

The images below show the best 4G LTE RSRP signal strength by provider for a given area outdoors and indoors within a specific building. As evidenced by the colorful array throughout the map, Monas is widely covered with 4G LTE, though some providers have a bigger footprint than others in various areas.

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The maps below show the areas of high and low signal strengths for every top provider. Telkomsel users have the most comprehensive signal, although there are areas with room for improvement. IM3 Ooredoo shows areas of strong signal strength east of the Monas monument, though a few blocks over there is an area where users experience low RSRP signal strength, which undoubtedly affects mobile performance. XL has adequate RSRP in the areas to the east and west of Monas, but also shows weak signals in the east, southeast and north areas. 3 shows areas of strong signal strength in localized areas located in red, while Smartfren’s map shows areas of moderate intensity with many areas of low signal strength.

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Bajra Sandhi Monument — Denpasar, Bali

With more than 900,000 people, the Balinese capital Denpasar is an important regional hub and growing tourist destination. Located in downtown Denpasar in front of the Bali Governor’s Office, the Bajra Sandhi is a monument to the people of Bali and their fights throughout history. It’s a prime location to show how each top mobile operator is performing in the area.

As evidenced by the data below, Telkomsel had many locations with the best RSRP 4G LTE signal strength around the Bajra Sandhi Monument for both indoor and outdoor areas.

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The RSRP maps for providers paint an interesting picture of Denpasar: While Telkomsel shows many strong areas, IM3 Ooredoo shows few weak RSRP areas near the Bajra Sandhi monument with a large blue cluster showing strong 4G LTE signals near the center of the map. XL shows areas of localized strength, though the major roads to the west appear to have areas of low strength. 3’s strongest signals are centered around the major roads within the area, with room for improvement in the central core. Smartfren has adequate strength throughout, but much fewer samples than the rest of the providers.

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Plaza Balikpapan — Balikpapan, East Kalimantan

In the near future, Indonesia’s government will be moving its capital from Jakarta to a yet-to-be-named area in East Kalimantan between the province’s two largest cities, Samarinda and Balikpapan. To better determine how mobile operators are already performing in the region, we examined the busy shopping mall Plaza Balikpapan near the shoreline in Balikpapan.

With many key shopping locations on the waterfront, Telkomsel has a strong presence in the east and north of the area, as well as key locations on the waterfront. XL has some of the best 4G LTE signal strength in the center of the map and eastern waterfront. IM3 Ooredoo has the best signal strength in key indoor areas north of the waterfront. 3 has the best RSRP in various locations throughout the map, including the waterfront. Smartfren samples are largely absent from the area.

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The following maps show Telkomsel coverage throughout much of the area. IM3 Ooredoo seems to be the operator of choice for boaters and has strong 4G LTE RSRP near the central waterfront and east of the map. XL has strong locations near the waterfront and north of the map. 3 has strong localized areas near the waterfront and east but has many areas that lack good strength around the map. Smartfren does not have much of a footprint in Balikpapan according to this data.

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The future of Indonesia’s mobile experience depends on 4G and 5G expansion

With 5G officially launched in Indonesia in May 2021 and Ooredo recently launching in August, we’re looking forward to seeing how speeds improve — especially as some countries have seen 5G deliver speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G. But without any C-band currently being commercially utilized or up for auction, Indonesians may not see the lightning fast 5G speeds its trading partners like Vietnam and South Korea experience. Instead, Indonesia’s C-band spectrum is currently occupied by satellite operators, which play an important role in connecting remote towns and villages that are not served by terrestrial telecoms networks. With a lack of spectrum available for mobile in this key 5G band, and significant challenges in terms of coexistence, the Ministry of Communication and Information has sought to drive more efficient use of existing spectrum, most recently through:

  • Refarming spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band — a key band which will help increase existing 4G capacity and in time support 5G services — with both Telkomsel and Smartfren successfully acquiring blocks at auction in April 2021.
  • Proceeding with plans to complete analogue switch-off in the country, despite COVID-19 related delays, which will free up spectrum in the 700 MHz band, which will be critical in driving improved mobile coverage.
  • The introduction of the Omnibus Law, which mandates the sharing of passive network infrastructure to facilitate new network rollouts while also allowing for spectrum trading and sharing between network operators.

The silver lining to Indonesia’s slow 5G rollout lies in cost benefits — 5G equipment will become cheaper over time, and the demand for 5G could be greater; particularly as 5G devices become cheaper and cheaper. As the government and mobile operators continue to push to expand 4G LTE access to rural and remote areas, Indonesia will reap the benefits of lower cost technologies while being able to prime deployments for future 5G upgrades. However, those expansions will only be in demand if consumers can afford them or see the benefit of upgrading their devices to a 4G minimum — while there is supply, mobile operators should drive demand and Indonesian regulators should help make the switch to 4G easier for consumers.

We’ll be monitoring Indonesia’s mobile experience closely and keep you up-to-date on newsworthy events. To learn more about Speedtest Intelligence and Cell Analyticsplease contact us. If you want to see how your mobile performance stacks up, take a Speedtest®.