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Communications for Expats in Indonesia

Submitted: October 2014

Mobile Phones

Indonesia’s telecommunications infrastructure has expanded widely in recent years, no mean feat considering the country comprises more than 17,000 islands.  Mobile penetration has recently reached a high of 122%, with the best-covered places being larger cities such as Jakarta and Bandung. However, coverage is still sparse across the smaller islands and more rural areas of Indonesia. CDMA networks are declining in favour of the GSM standard, so it is definitely worth making sure any phone you have or buy is compatible with this standard.

2G services have the widest coverage across the country, but 3G is on the increase as more and more Indonesians seek to use their phones for internet and social media services. Hence in populous areas there  is a good chance that 3G internet access is available. For more information, Cellmapper provide a very useful map of coverage with different services and network providers, which should allow you to make an informed choice about your provider. The largest mobile providers in Indonesia are Telkomsel, XL Axiata, Indosat and Hutchinson 3.

Contracts are available on the larger network providers, and will offer tariffs with differing amounts of data usage, minutes and texts per month. These plans generally cost from around Rp35,000 (approx £2) to Rp400,000 (approx £20) a month. For example, Telkomsel offer ‘My Plan’ which has four different plans depending on whether you use minutes, texts or data the most, for Rp80,000 a month. This is an excellent deal, working out at just over £4 a month for up to 2GB of Internet usage, 200 minutes, and 200 texts.

However, most Indonesian citizens prefer pay as you go, colloquially referred to as pulsa. Pre-paid SIM cards or top-up scratchcards are available from phone kiosks and many convenience stores. Make sure you buy a SIM that can fit your phone, as many smartphones now use Micro SIMs rather than the standard size.



Internet providers have made great strides in Indonesia in the last decade, with the subscription base growing widely and services developing in response. Many Indonesians choose to use mobile internet rather than home services, but if you would rather that your laptop does not become a useless brick, there are many choices available. If you require fast fibre-optic broadband, Innovate Indonesia offers deals that include fibre-optic plus TV services, from 10 mb/s for Rp290,000 a month (approx £15) to 100 mb/s for Rp2,000,000 a month (approx £100). Alternatively, standard cable internet is available from a range of providers such as FirstMedia who offer 30 mb/s connections for Rp2,035,000 IDR a month or 100 mb/s connections for Rp2,979,000 (approx £150) a month.

As you can see, high-speed connections are particularly expensive in Indonesia, which is why most ordinary Indonesians choose mobile internet instead. A whole list of providers is available at the Living In Indonesia forum, along with many people’s experiences with different services. Before entering into a subscription it is a very good idea to read extensively on any problems with providers, else you may be left paying over £100 a month for inadequate service.



The largest landline provider in Indonesia is Telkom, who offer wide coverage across urban areas and some across rural areas, though it can be patchy. The above link is for an English-language version of their website, however much of it has not been translated adequately or at all. You are best off phoning the nearest Telkom outlet to you and discussing installation, but it is worth pointing out there has never been high subscription penetration of landlines in Indonesia, and this is currently falling rapidly. Mobiles are a far better way of keeping in contact with the Indonesians around you, and offer attractive international call rates on top.




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