After the announcement of winner of 3G beauty contest of block number 11 and 12, Telkomsel and XL must pay the Government the upfront fee and first year fee of frequency use. The number is well above IDR 560 billion.
Following the payment and the issuance of license permit, which have been completed, Telkomsel and XL must immediately use frequency number 11 and 12 respectively. No other option for them because the fee is not cheap, while the clock keeps ticking.
However, there is problem. For Telkomsel the issue is on the spectrum range of its existing blocks and newly acquired third carrier. For XL the trouble is suspected interference in block number 12.
Telkomsel is using channel number 4 and 5, while the new block is channel 11, meaning the spectrum is 40 MHz wide, although it uses only 15 MHz. The existing radio unit, of so called software-defined radio (SDR), covers maximum instantaneous bandwidth of 20 MHz. Thus, if Telkomsel wants to utilise the third carrier, the operator must spend extra CAPEX for the radio unit.
XL can immediately use the frequency in block 12 with the existing multi-carrier radio unit because its existing frequencies and third carrier range is well covered within 20 MHz of bandwidth filter of the SDR radio unit. But the suspected interference issue from CDMA operators may pose a problem, as XL well aware of, and that is the reason the block was awarded for the second winner.
And the last reason that holds both operators from immediately capitalise on their newly acquired frequencies is Government stipulation, through Ministerial Decree used as legal basis for the tender, that frequency rearrangement follows beauty contest results.
Since one objective of the frequency arrangement is operators to have contiguous spectrum, there’s no scenario in which both Telkomsel and XL will retain the frequency they have won in the contest. It means that they have to do frequency retune after frequency arrangement plan is settled. And that will cost extra money.
Therefore, it is urgent for all stakeholders -operators, Government and Regulator- to speed up the frequency rearrangement. The reason Telkomsel and XL competed for the third carrier because it relates to pressure of coverage, capacity and quality on their network. And since in WCDMA coverage, capacity and quality are linked their combined more than 150 millions of subscribers’ quality of service experience are at risk. We are talking about more than half of the cellular users in this country.
So let’s hope all parties will find the best solution for the frequency arrangement.