Mobile phone operators expressed their interest in participating in the auction, organized by the Communications and Information Ministry, which would enable operators to expand their 3G services and accommodate the increase in data traffic.
The ministry officially announced through their website, www.kominfo.go.id, that they would begin the process of auctioning the last two blocks, or sections, of the 2.1 gigahertz frequency.
This frequency has a total of 12 blocks, 10 of which are already in use by the five main mobile phone operators, which provide 3G coverage to data subscribers.
Gatot S. Dewabroto, ministry spokesperson, said that the auction process would commence on Friday when the ministry officially announces the start of the selection period.
He added that operators would go through an variety of processes, from documentation to meetings with the ministry’s committee in charge of the auction, to acquire the remaining blocks.
“The actual auctioning is scheduled to take place in March 2013,” he said, adding that a single operator, instead of two, could end up winning both blocks.
Alex J. Sinaga, president director of PT Telekomunikasi Selular ( Telkomsel ) said that the operator would participate in the auction process.
“We are joining in,” he said on Tuesday.
Telkomsel dominates the operator market with a market share of over 50 percent and a subscription base of approximately 123 million.
Alex expects the subscription number to rise to at least 138 million next year, with roughly 70 million subscriptions being for 3G.
The operator currently operates two of the 10 blocks currently available on the 2.1 gigahertz frequency band.
Similarly, Adrian Prasanto, the spokesperson for PT Indosat, added that the operator was interested in the upcoming auction but that the operator had to look into the costs related to the acquisition of the auctioned blocks first.
He added that the operator was interested in acquiring the additional blocks to accommodate the future increase in 3G subscribers.
“We expect data consumption to continue to rise in the future,” he said.
As with Telkomsel, Indosat currently operates two blocks on the 2.1 gigahertz frequency band.
Turina Farouk, spokesperson for PT XL Axiata, also said that the operator was “serious” about gaining more space for their 3G service.
“XL is serious about acquiring the additional 3G channels that the government would soon roll out,” she said.
XL Axiata, the third-largest telecommunication operator in Indonesia, also operates two blocks on the 2.1 gigahertz frequency.
Mobile phone operators have repeatedly urged the ministry to conduct the auction and open up more space for operators to handle the burgeoning data traffic.
The International Data Corporation ( IDC ) predicts broadband users, or those who connect to the Internet using mobile phones, will grow by 55 percent annually until 2016.