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Jakarta Post

Indonesian telecom companies enjoy data traffic surge during Idul Fitri

  • Eisya A. Eloksari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, May 29, 2020   /   04:19 pm
Indonesian telecom companies enjoy data traffic surge during Idul Fitri A customer talks with a customer service staff member at an Indosat service counter. (Tribun Timur via Abdiwan)

Indonesia's telecommunication companies have enjoyed a surge in data traffic during this year's Idul Fitri celebration as customers connected with family and friends online amid large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and a ban on the traditional holiday exodus to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.

Publicly listed PT Indosat has reported that its data traffic rose 27 percent in the period compared to the average traffic prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its customers were using more messaging, social media, video streaming and gaming applications.

“Since we partnered with [streaming service] Viu in May, we have also seen a significant increase in our user engagement and data traffic from the video streaming app,” said Indosat Ooredoo group head of corporate communications Turina Farouk in a statement on Friday.

She went on to say that the data traffic had risen because customers were staying at home, adhering to the Idul Fitri mudik (exodus) ban.

Stocks of Indosat have lost almost 29 percent of their value so far this year, after recovering a loss of more than 58 percent in late March.

The government banned the mudik, which usually sees dozens of millions of people travel nationwide, to prevent further spread of the disease. At the same time, as many as four provinces and 26 regencies/cities across Indonesia, including Greater Jakarta, Bandung in West Java and Surabaya in East Java, are implementing the PSBB, shutting schools, factories and offices, except for essentials services, and limiting people’s movement.

Telkomsel also recorded a steep hike of 75.4 percent in mobile data use during the Idul Fitri celebration compared to normal days, with WhatsApp usage jumping by 49.2 percent. Social media platforms still dominated data use at 30.8 percent, showing an uptick of 3.6 percent from normal use. 

Telkomsel president director Setyanto Hantoro said many customers celebrated Idul Fitri differently this year amid the outbreak.

Telkomsel, a subsidiary of state-owned PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), also noted unusually high data traffic in Greater Jakarta, which typically emptied during the holiday as people leave for their hometowns. Instead, it recorded a 60.9 percent yoy surge in data traffic in the area during this year’s Muslim holiday celebration.

Jakarta is the hardest hit region in the country as and accounted for some 7,000 of more than 24,000 people infected with the coronavirus across Indonesia as of Thursday afternoon, official data show. The city administration has extended the PSBB in the capital for a third time until June 4.

Meanwhile, publicly listed PT XL Axiata recorded a 25 percent surge in data traffic during the celebration compared to normal days prior to the pandemic.

Data use through instant messaging services rose 32 percent, video call services jumped 26 percent, social network services increased 22 percent and streaming services, which include game, video, music and movie streaming, climbed 14 percent.

XL acting chief technology officer I Gede Darmayusa said the services and data consumption patterns during this year's Idul Fitri related with the pandemic, which forced people to spend more time at home.

"Probably, the customers' activity of uploading pictures or videos showing their travel experiences is no longer possible as the tourist objects are closed. Instead, now family gatherings are replaced with virtual ways using video call services," he said in a statement on Thursday, as quoted by (prm)