Measuring the Need and Capability of Fixed Broadband in Indonesia

Written by: Dheny Sunjaya

MarkPlus Inc., through the MarkPlus Industry Roundtable, held last week, announced the results of the latest survey, which revealed that during the COVID-19 pandemic (since March 2020), the majority of Indonesians has increased their monthly mobile internet quota usage by using fixed broadband.

52.1 percent of non-Jabodetabek people must increase their purchase of mobile internet quota during the pandemic. The work from home policy encourages people to improve their internet quota capacity at home.

The need for internet quota for non-Jabodetabek people has increased; as many as 22.9 percent consume more than 30 gigabytes (GB) data up to unlimited data, which encourages them to choose to install fixed broadband services at home.

In contrast to non-Jabodetabek people, as many as 63.5 percent of Jabodetabek people admit that they do not increase or decrease their internet quota because their homes have been equipped with fixed broadband, so far.

owever, the increase in quota usage also occurred. Fixed broadband, which has initially been a complement to home services in addition to the use of mobile broadband internet quota from cellular operators, during the pandemic period became the leading service because people chose to optimize the unlimited internet data packet from fixed broadband via Wi-Fi, compared to increase the mobile internet subscription quota.

The survey result conducted by MarkPlus to its correspondents stated that three activities considered to consume the most internet quota. These activities are online video conferences to support learning, work at home, watch videos online, and play social media.

From the explanation, the increase in internet quota usage is triggered by the policy of studying and working at home during this COVID-19 pandemic.

The need for a large quota with stable internet services is an opportunity for fixed broadband to reach a wider community, like what has been done by mobile broadband for the last ten years in Indonesia.

Unfortunately, building and optimizing broadband network for fixed broadband services in Indonesia cannot be done quickly. Fixed broadband penetration in Indonesia has evenly distributed. So, people in the regions naturally rely more on mobile internet because Wi-Fi from fixed broadband services is not available.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology noted in early 2020 that fixed broadband penetration has only reached 10.30 percent for households and 2.64 percent for the national population.

Many obstacles faced in building fiber networks in Indonesia, ranging from the high investment costs, where nearly 80 percent of the expenses are public works such as excavating and installing poles, to different permits in each region, so that right of way and open access have not occurred.

At the micro-level, pulling cables at end-users such as housing or buildings is difficult, often monopolized. However, this occurs because first coming service providers already spend high overhead costs.  Those challenges will not immediately go when fiber network install. Currently, only 26.02 percent of Indonesia’s fiber networks are registered (7.4 million home connected / 28.7 million home passes).

The unavailability of the home passes in areas that have potential as potential customers because operators require a minimum number of subscribers and a distance limit for cable withdrawals to recover capital expenditures that have to spend.

In the end, operators are currently choosing to look for economically or business captive areas with a target of getting a minimum of 20 customers for three years. In terms of service prices, in the end, fixed broadband operators compete fiercely with mobile broadband. So, they cannot sell these services at high prices. (corcomm/fim)