Major Telecoms Set Sights on Data Profitability

Data services are fast becoming a lucrative form of business among major telecommunication operators today. Many of them have benefited greatly from the increased revenue from this form of electronic service.

Telecommunications operator XL Axiata, most notably, has reported positive growth in its work performance during the first semester of 2014, thanks in part to data services pushing its growth.

Its revenue rose 12 percent compared to 2013, reaching Rp 11.6 trillion. The company attributed this income increase to its services, especially data services, which it reported as having experienced a 45 percent growth.

Hasnul Suhaimi, XL president director, said that data services grew from 22 to 28 percent of total income from use.

“We have once again seen a growth in data service usage that has pushed data traffic significantly to 158 percent compared to the previous year,” Hasnul said, as is quoted on

Further underlining the importance of data service subscribers for XL are the sub-demographics of its subscriber base. XL reported as many as 62.9 million subscribers, a 16 percent increase compared to the previous year. Of those numbers, 32.2 million, or 51 percent, were data service subscribers.

On a similar note, Indonesia’s largest telecommunications operator, PT Telkomsel, is expecting to benefit big time from increased use in data services.

According to Telkomsel media relations manager Aldin Hasyim, data services are expected to make up 25 percent of all of Telkomsel’s income for this year alone. The company also projected that its income from this particular field of telecommunications would reach 33 percent in 2015 and become one of the company’s main backbones for income.

Earlier this year, The Jakarta Post reported publicly listed telecommunications operator PT Indosat as also expressing a desire to have data services play a stronger role in its growth.

It is aiming to improve the contribution of its data services to its overall revenue by up to 60 percent in the next four years, on the back of growing data consumption.

Diverse customer approaches

A number of policies big telecom firms have undertaken involving data services in this recent period include promoting various data packets and bundle packets.

One of Telkomsel’s products, for instance, is an unlimited data packet that allows for international roaming in up to 18 different countries – such as South Korea, Australia, Greece, Norway and the United States – with the use of a simPATI or As Card.

A similar Telkomsel package offers data with set week-long quotas ranging from 50-300 megabytes (MB) and allows roaming in up to 52 countries.

Indosat has its own Super Data SIM card package that provides 90 days of quota-based high-speed Internet.

Its speeds run up to 42 Mbps. It makes use of new networks scattered across places such as Padang, Palembang and Mataram to allow for stronger signals and benefits such as lag-free video streaming and faster download speeds.

It is not just all about providing access when it comes to data services. For example, according to XL chief marketing and sales Officer Pradeep Shrivastava, the company supplements its data services with a number of digital services to make data services easier to use for customers.

“They include digital entertainment services both in content and applications, mobile finances, mobile advertising, machine-to-machine and cloud computing to make things all easier on consumers,” Pradeep said.

XL has also promoted bundle packets for the HTC One Mini, the Blackberry Z3 and the Samsung Galaxy Trend Lite, and has cooperated with Samsung to synch up their devices with XL’s data services.

Current limitations

Still, not all communications devices support advanced data services. “3G gadgets are very unevenly spread. Some regions still use 2G,” Aldin said.

In Kalimantan, for instance, Telkomsel’s income as of the first semester of 2014 was still dominated by voice services at 53.65 percent. Income from text message services came second at 22.96 percent while data services stood at third at 20.57 percent.

However, according to Telkomsel general manager of sales and customer care in Kalimantan Thomas Anda Siaga, the last two years have seen an increase in data services contributions, rising from 15.58 percent in 2012 to 18.76 percent in 2013.

Only 40 percent of subscribers in Kalimantan use data services. “The opportunity is still there because 60 percent of subscribers have yet to use data services,” Thomas said, as quoted by


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