Cell-phone users may reach 80m this year

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The number of cellular telephone users is expected to reach 80 million this year, up 25 percent from 64 million in 2006, thanks to an increase in the number of operators and the launch of high-speed 3G services.

"This year, the number of users is predicted to reach 80 million due to the increasing number of cellular operators," said Wahyu Wijayadi, Indosat's Marketing Director, as quoted by Antara.

According to Wahyu, the cellular industry this year will be enlivened by the entry of new players holding national licenses, such as PT Bakrie Telecom, PT Mobile-8, and two other operators, Natrindo and Hutchinson, which have 3G cellular-service licenses.

"Voice services and SMS dominated the cellular industry in 2006, but now is the time for the rolling out of additional high-tech services," Wahyu said.

A number of telecommunications companies introduced 3G services in August 2006. Third generation services allow subscribers to receive new content through dozens or even hundreds of web feeds in generally less than a minute's downloading time.

Since then, the number of 3G subscribers has grown significantly, especially for the two out of five cell-phone operators holding 3G licenses.

Telkomsel is believed to have registered 950,000 3G users as of December last year. Excelcomindo (XL) had some 130,000 users, while Indosat, which just launched its services in late November, has no precise figures yet, but had targeted 320,000 subscribers by the beginning of this year.

Wahyu added that Indosat would strive to improve the position of their products with a number of new services, such as voice services for Mentari prepaid, SMS for IM3 prepaid, and internet broadband and 3G services.

By the end of 2006, Indosat had 16 million customers, of which 95 percent were prepaid.

"We expect to get some 5 to 6 million additional users this year," said Wahyu.

PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel), Indonesia's biggest mobile-phone operator, expects sales growth to slow this year as competition among mobile-phone operators intensifies.

Telkomsel, which added 10.6 million new users last year to give a total of 34.9 million customers, expects to attract another 7.5 to 9 million users this year.

"Growth will slow because of market saturation in some high-density areas, like in Java", Telkomsel's President Director Kiskenda Suriahardja said at a media briefing Friday in Jakarta. "There will be more players in 2007. It will be a more difficult year. This definitely will impact upon our growth," he was quoted as saying by Bloomberg
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