Wednesday 16 December 2020

East Timor is focusing on improving LTE coverage


The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor occupies the eastern half of Timor island located in the Indonesian archipelago. It became independent in 1999 and recognized as a sovereign state in 2002.

Due to a limited number of fixed lines as well as the dominance of the mobile platform, fixed broadband penetration in Timor Leste remains very low. However, the market has grown strongly over the past five years from a very small base, driven by a rising level of mobile subscribers with smartphones. However, the mobile broadband market is still at an early stage of development. Over the next five years to 2023 the market is expected to grow very strongly but overall market penetration will remain extremely low compared to other nations.

All three major mobile operators: Timor Telecom (TT), Telkomcel  (Telin Timor-Leste) and Telemor (Viettel Timor-Leste) have recently launched 4G LTE services. A local consortium has submitted an application to become the country’s fourth telecoms operator. Ceslink intends to offer high-quality, high-speed and affordable telecoms services in all areas of the country.

2G and 3G is on all three operators in the country, 4G/LTE started in 2017 on all three operators too. Mobile phone coverage is fairly good in most of the country (some rugged rural areas can be hard to get a signal). 3G has decent coverage in the major towns (again, the best provider can vary by location), but it's hard to get coverage in smaller towns.

Telemor is operated by Vietnamese army backed Viettel and has beaten TT and became the most popular provider with 47% market share in 2017. It started as late as 2013 and has built up a good coverage ever since. 2G and 3G is on 900 and 1800 MHz covering more than 95%.

In 2017 they have started 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz. The new high speed service is available in all 13 of Timor-Leste’s districts, providing territorial coverage of 70%.

Timor Telecom was the market leader for a long time, but lost to Telemor recently. It used to be the only player from 2003, until in 2012 two new competitors have been licensed. It is co-owned by the E.Timor state and Brazilian Oi. It still has a good coverage, but the highest rates. About 94% of the population is covered at 188 2G and 122 3G sites.

2G/GSM is on 900 MHz and for 3G TT uses 2100 MHz network frequency in Dili and 850 MHz band elsewhere. 4G/LTE has started in 2017 on 1800 MHz (B3)

Telkomcel owned by Indonesian Telin (Telekomunikasi Indonesia) is the 3rd operator with a low 13% share in 2015. It covers 95% of the population already. 2G and 3G is both on 850 MHz only, which is rare in Asia for 3G. So check before, if your device can handle it.

It was the last operator that started 4G/LTE in 2017 for their 5th anniversary starting from Dili area, and continuing to expand to other districts.

Timor-Leste’s National Communications Authority (Autoridade Nacional de Comunicacoes, ANC) has invited mobile operators to submit applications for the allocation of spectrum in the 1800MHz, 2300MHz and 2600MHz bands. The move follows a consultation meeting held last month between the regulator and operators in response to new policy guidelines issued by the Ministry of Transport and Communications on maximising the use of radio frequency spectrum in Timor-Leste (No. 04/2020 of 23 September 2020).

In releasing spectrum in the 1800MHz, 2300MHz and 2600MHz bands, the ANC said it is aiming to: support the implementation of government policies; meet the need of mobile service providers, especially to provide better data services for customers in urban areas; promote the efficient use of radio frequency spectrum; and promote competition in the sector.

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