Burma Calling Out for Indonesia’s Telkom

A woman waits for customers at a “public call office” in Yangon on May 27, 2012. Just a few million out of Myanmar’s 50-plus million population have mobile phones and access to an as-yet extremely limited system. (Photo: Reuters)

JAKARTA — Telekomunikasi Indonesia, Indonesia’s biggest telecommunication company, has won a tender to manage Burma’s international networks.

“The trust given by the Myanmar government is the result of our team’s hard work on the ground in Myanmar. This will be an opportunity to show Telkom can be aligned with other big international operators,” Arief Yahya, president director of Indonesia’s state-controlled Telkom, said in a statement on Friday.

Telkom has been tasked with modernizing Burma’s information and communications technology facilities following years of neglect during a period of military government that attracted international sanctions.

Arief said Burma, which is in the process of economic liberalization, would provide business opportunities, which Telkom was seeking to tap into by opening a representative office in the country.

“This proves Telkom’s seriousness in getting a foothold in Myanmar’s emerging market,” Arief said.

In April, Telkom missed out on two telecom licenses after Burma’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology shortlisted 12 bidders. Telkom was not on the list.

Telkom’s expansion into Burma follows a call by State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan last year for companies under his watch to aggressively pursue opportunities in the fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations member.

Cement-maker Semen Indonesia is another company that has heeded the call, setting aside US$200 million to buy a plant.

Telkom, via Telekom Internasional, a subsidiary that handles the company’s business overseas, has expanded into Hong Kong, East Timor, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

It has also set its sights on markets elsewhere in Asia, and in the Middle East.

In Hong Kong, Telkom offers “Kartu As 2 in 1,” a customized SIM product launched via Telkom Internasional Hong Kong last October. The SIM card contains both Indonesian and Hong Kong numbers.

According to Hong Kong’s 2011 census, there were 137,403 Indonesians, 1.9 percent of the population, living in the territory.

In East Timor, Telkom is investing $50 million to establish GSM and 3G telecommunications operations.

Last year the company secured a license to run telephony services for three years in the country.

Telkom is seeking a 60 percent market share in East Timor.

In Australia, Telkom is looking to enter the call center outsourcing business, while in Malaysia, it has established subsidiary Telekomunikasi Indonesia International.

The company was officially incorporated on July 2, according to Telkom’s recent unaudited financial statement.

Telkom has long had a working relationship with Singapore’s SingTel. The cooperation is an extension of the joint venture in Indonesia via Telkomsel, Indonesia’s biggest mobile phone operator, which is 65 percent owned by Telkom and 35 percent by SingTel.

Telkom reported a profit increase of 13 percent, to Rp 10.1 trillion ($986 billion), in the first half as its business expanded and revenue climbed.

The Bandung-based company posted a 9.4 percent increase in revenue to Rp 40.2 trillion in the first semester.

Shares in Telkom fell 2.2 percent to Rp 11,400 in Monday trading in Jakarta.

This article was cross-posted from The Jakarta Globe.


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