Mobile-8 expands to four more provinces

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

PT Mobile-8 Telecom Tbk (Mobile-8), the publicly listed operator of CDMA-based mobile phone service Fren, is expanding its network to four new provinces to meet its target of increasing its subscriber base to four million customers this year.

"The expansion will cover big cities in four provinces: West Sumatra, Riau, Lampung and North Sulawesi," Mobile-8 director and chief of corporate affairs Merza Fachys told The Jakarta Post.

At present, the Fren service is only available in nine provinces -- Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, Bali, South Sulawesi, South Kalimantan, North Sumatra, South Sulawesi and South Sumatra.

Merza added that the South Sumatra service had been launched on Nov. 9.

Mobile-8, which entered the business in 2003, hoped to sign up 4 million subscribers in 2007. But as of September, the company only booked around 2.6 million subscribers.

"In the past, our biggest expansions were made during the last quarter because of the Idul Fitri holidays. But our expansion during this year's Idul Fitri hasn't met our expectations. So, the five cities will be our last resort," he said.

"If each city can contribute 30,000 to 50,000 activations per month, I'm optimistic that we can meet the target."

He said that Medan had recorded 1,000 activations per day since Mobile-8 launched its service there in July, the highest figure ever recorded by the company.

For next year, Mobile-8 hopes to double its customer base to 8 million. To achieve that target, Merza said, the company would strengthen its presence in 15 main areas in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan.

"According to our research, those areas are good for expanding our customer base and have the potential to produce high revenues," he said.

He explained that Mobile-8 would improve its network quality in those areas and launch a customer retention program.

During the first three quarters, Mobile-8 booked a profit of Rp 55 billion, or a 513 percent increase compared with Rp 9 billion a year earlier. The company's gross revenue reached Rp 803.8 billion during the period, a 53.8 percent increase over the previous year.

Meanwhile, the company's operating income amounted to Rp 112.1 billion in the period as compared to an operating loss of Rp 7.1 billion last year. (tif)
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