Cell phone service in Indonesia is now much better than some years ago. Now you have many choices to pick up when deciding which cell phone service for you when you are travelling across the country.
Here is the list of Indonesia’s cell phone service provider:
- Telkomsel: Simpati, As, Halo
- Indosat: Im3, Mentari, Matrix
- Excelcomindo Pratama: XL
- Hutchinson: 3
- NTS: Axis
- Telkom Flexi
- Mobile 8: Fren
- Indosat: StarOne
Are you a Blackberry user? Don’t worry, you can still hang around with your BlackBerry in Indonesia. Almost all those providers have agreement with BlackBerry.
Cell Phone Service in Indonesia: History
The first thing you need to know about traveling to Indonesia and looking for cell phone service is the region’s wireless history. Back in 1998, Indonesia was in financial crisis which was the cellular boom for most of the developing world. The local currency in Indonesia, rupiah, fell by more than 90% which left Indonesia’s telecos in financial mayhem and unable to fund expansion. To make matters worse, the government capped call rates which limited the potential earnings of the telecos and eventually culminated in 6 of the 9 cellular carriers failing and foreign investors such as At&t Wireless Services and Notherlands’ KPN bailing out.
By 2001 only 1.7% of Indonesians had cellular phones and today there are 40+ million subscribers which brings up the total to 18%. With new lincenses being offered and some of the old players coming back to life the market is now hot with 42 million cellular subscribers using third generation wireless (3G) thanks to a 2003 license given to Orange cellular network in Thailand.
Presently Excelcomindo Pratama is heavily invested by Verizon Wireless VZW while Telekom Malaysia and China Telecom are bidding for Verizon’s share of the market. The two market leaders are Telkomsel and Indosat which control around 50% of the market thanks to restructured debt and consolidated subsidiaries when creating a national brand.
The biggest aspect to take away from the history of Indonesia cell phone service is that the market is hot with fast data perks found here in the states and essentially all services roam off two major carriers: PT Excelcomindo and PT Indonesian Satellite Corporation.
Cell Phone Service in Indonesia: Cheap Carriers
As we mentioned above you have a choice of two carriers when traveling through Indonesia and looking for solid coverage. The good thing about using cell service in Indonesia is that everything is relatively cheap compared to US standards. It is also worth noting that pre-paid SIM cards are also a viable option in the area, but they will end up using service off one of the two major carriers so why not skip the middle man? Reality Check.com has some interesting details to put the cost of wireless service in Indonesia into perspective for the United States:
To put this in American pesos dollars, a minute of calling to a landline costs less than $0.06 a minute, a minute of mobile calling costs less than $0.09, SMS costs $0.03 within Indonesia, $0.05 outside. The access fee is nearly $0.04. And, of course, these costs are for outbound only calls/SMS, incoming calls/SMS are free as they should be.
Cell Phone Service in Indonesia: Why is it so cheap?
The simple answer here is that US carriers overcharge for most services they offer and the rest of the world (particularly Indonesia) has a much more accurate pricing structure. A good example of this drastic difference is the cost of sending an International text from the US versus sending an International text from Indonesia. If you were using Verizon Wireless and sent an International text message to a friend in Indonesia you would spend $0.25 cents while your friend in Indonesia would only spend $0.05 cents to reply to your message.
Cell Phone Service in Indonesia: What phone should I get?
There are many options when purchasing a phone for International travels to Indonesia, but clearly the most critical piece of information is GSM. You must purchase a GSM phone which supports 900MHz and 1800MHz bands (referred to as a dual-band phone), but the best and easiest option is to purchase a phone that is labeled “quadband”. A quadband device will support all 4 major worldwide GSM bands and give you the most versatility when using your phone in the US or Internationally.