Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison (IOH) CEO Vikram Sinha pointed to 22 million new subscribers from rural locations in Indonesia as an opportunity for growth for the operator, claiming there is “a lot more juice left in 4G”.
Speaking at a media roundtable, the chief executive said IOH is focused on building out its 4G network towards the east of Indonesia, where most unconnected future subscribers reside.
“We need to invest to connect the unconnected, and the focus is on rural Indonesia. We started with Nusantara where we have put in significant investment to ensure we were able to build a good 4G network. We are also looking towards the East of Indonesia in provinces such as Papua, where we feel that our network is underindexed.
“We need to give opportunities to people across rural Indonesia. But it's a journey we have to do it in a manner where we are able to balance our capex intensity,” said Sinha.
On 5G, the chief executive detailed the operator had rolled out 750 sites but said “real 5G will start happening” when the Indonesian government hold auctions for airwaves in the 700MHz, 26GHz, and 3.5GHz frequencies next year.
Indosat will focus on delivering private networks to deliver industry 4.0 use cases that are viable.
“The most important thing to note is that 5G is not about speed, it is about the ecosystem play and orchestrating it all. We are learning from everyone, especially from some of the big market rollouts we have seen in India,” said the executive.
Gen AI is not another metaverse
The executive also spoke about the use of generative AI by the operator and saw it as a truly transformative technology and not just “another metaverse”.
Sinha detailed that the operator has put in a framework with the aim to boost revenue by up to 20% in 2026. This will be done through a series of upgrades to the business, an example given was cutting down general administrative costs by 40%.
“We have taken an ambitious target, but do we have all the answers? No. But it's a CEO mandate, it is not a functional mandate. It has to be embedded across the organisation. We want to make sure we are future-ready. Generative AI has put all of us (in telecoms) on the same page. We are focusing on how we take off from here,” said Sinha.
Indosat Ooredoo and Hutchison 3 Indonesia gained final regulatory approval to merge in January 2022 and were given targets to ramp up services by the government. Sinha said the newly merged operator completed the integration of its RAN within a year, claiming coverage, network quality and customer experience had vastly improved.
Sinha noted analysts expected the merger to deliver a synergy value of between $300 to 400 million in five years' time, but the company has already reached that in three years.