XL Axiata takes 4G to Maluku Islands and Papua

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XL Axiata has switched on a 4G service for the remote communities located across Maluku and Papua.

Part of the universal services obligation (USO) initiative, in total, 14 regencies across the vast Maluku Islands will be covered by XL Axiata in addition to 10 regencies in Papua and West Papua.

XL Axiata director and CTO, I Gede Darmayusa said: "Utilising the USO program, we are trying to help provide 4G networks to remote areas in 14 regencies in the very vast Maluku Islands, starting from Halmahera in North, Central Maluku, to the Aru Islands in the South. In addition, we have also started to serve 10 regencies in Papua and West Papua which on average have difficult terrain.

"Hopefully the existence of hundreds of 4G network infrastructure will be able to encourage economic productivity and facilitate the social needs of local residents, as well as open their isolation from the outside world,” Darmayusa continued.

In Indonesia USO fund was introduced in 2000 in a move that established the Indonesian Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (BTIP), which in turn oversees the USOF. In 2007 the list of services covered by the USO were extended to include IT and broadband.

According to the World Bank, all providers were required to pay 0.75% of their gross revenues to the fund increasing to 1.25% in 2009. The USO operators are chosen by BTIP through auction processes and are licensed by the government.

XL Axiata first launched 4G services in Indonesia in late 2019 and extended its network throughout 2020. Gede said that currently 83 USO 4G base transceiver station (BTS) points have been operated in North Maluku and 39 in Maluku Province. In Papua Province, there is a total of 36 USO BTS and in West Papua Province there are a total of 23 USO BTS.

To date, XL Axiata operates 362 USO BTS in 344 villages in 61 regencies and 17 provinces.

In August XL Axiata signed a non-binding agreement with Linknet to take a 66% stake in the business and form a competitor for Telkom Indonesia.