By: Hazim Ahmadi
At Mobile Backhaul Asia 2009, Hong Kong, March 5th, 2009
Bringing communications to remote areas of the country is a huge opportunity for cellular operators to profitably expand our networks and gain millions of new customers. With many of the Indonesia’s major city areas already covered, still one million people around the country have limited or no access to cellular services. But with limited terrestrial infrastructure in place, how can you cost effectively expand your cellular or wireless network?
Today there are 13 wireless operators in our country but in these slides only ten operators I quoted. Actually those operators can be distinguished by its licenses. In Indonesia there are two licenses in term of mobility. First one is full mobility license meaning real mobility around national coverage and secondly is limited mobility or more known as fixed wireless access (FWA) meaning the users can only make a call or receive a call within boundary their code area.
Picture 1. Wireless Landscape Q32008 of Indonesia
The full mobility are GSM system and CDMA2000 based infrastructures while the FWA supported by only CDMA2000 1X based infrastructures. This data was collected in Q3-2008. TELKOMFlexi and TELKOMsel both are under controlled by TELKOM Group, as subsidiary company. As you can see here …the biggest provider either in full mobility or limited mobility is TELKOM group. In full mobility TELKOM’s GSM secure his position as the biggest by holding 60.5 million subscribers. In FWA operator TELKOM’s FWA, Telkomflexi, also make itself as the winner of the market by holding 9.15 million subscribers.
Totally wireless subscriber by Q3-2008 surpassed 150 million or 65% of teledensity. The big total number of operators has been driving tight competition in the market and the price of services was falling down. However the only way to win competition is how to provide more features and various services like broadband data by offering 3.5 Generation. When they introduced broadband node B in their network, transmission network size to feed its BTS will be getting bigger.
Backhaul demand trends
Here the slide presents the big five of wireless operators.
Since 2005 the big three cellular operators has been deploying node B to serve their users with 3.5 G or HSDPA. The BTS and node B are growing year by year to grab the market.
Table 1. BTS/Node B Growth
But voice services are still important for Indonesian customers. That’s way TELKOMFlexi is positioned as the main voice services for TELKOM Group keep deploying their infrastructure not only in Java and cities area but also go to rural areas. In full mobility TELKOMsel competing with others to provide voice and data services and in limited mobility TELKOMFlexi competing with Bakrie to provide customers in cheaply tariff voice services.
The ideal transmission to support IP Based of cellular backhaul is how to connect that network access to Metro Ethernet as a single transport regional. We just deploy fiber network and then all any kind network access like cellular, fixed wireless, DSLAM, MSAN and other service can be connected to the network.
Need more bandwidth as users set their sight on mobile Internet for various new applications and services?
When broadband wireless introduced to users the issue is backhaul. Users might be able to get a 7-megabit link to the base station, but sitting behind that base station, typically, is a couple of E1 leased lines. Up to now, that’s been enough to handle 3G traffic, but only because the majority of 3G customers have been using their handsets for voice, SMS and relatively low bandwidth apps like downloading ringtones, wallpapers and games. But now, as HSPA grows and more users set their sights on “proper” mobile internet, whether via handsets or USB dongles, an E1 backhaul link isn’t going to cut it.
No more E1 please!
The one thing cellcos know they don’t want to do is just add more E1s. As it is, backhaul is one of the biggest single operating expenses for cellcos (75% of mobile transport costs and 25-30% of total opex, by most estimates). That’s because leased lines are pricey, and as you add more, the cost goes up proportionate to the extra bandwidth, not incrementally.
Fiber is not enough for archipelago country like Indonesia
As for the actual backhaul technology, fiber is the ideal choice, but fiber isn’t always available where you want it, and when it is, it’s not cheap (although it is cheaper than the equivalent number of E1s). In Asia, it depends on the market. In Indonesia, for example, “we have a lot of fiber, which makes it easier to deal with the backhaul issue in general, but in some areas, especially in rural areas, backhaul is still an issue.”
Fiber is run in Indonesia is often a spur rather than ring because it’s less expensive.
Fiber has limited applicability in Asia because of difficulties in gaining access and ensuring the reliability and security of the link. “When fiber is run in Asia, it’s often as a ‘spur’, rather than ‘looped’ to provide a redundant link, because it’s less expensive,” he says. “Fiber is also prone to damage by natural disaster such as flooding, landslides and earthquakes, not to mention the old ‘backhoe fade’.”
Satellite is a must for entry market in rural areas.
An alternative to fiber is satellite, which is already somewhat commonplace in Indonesia, particularly to cover the islands eastern of Indonesia.
“Satellite presents four key advantages for Indonesian backhaul: cost, speed of deployment, access and reliability, and – probably most importantly – it is very easy to establish loops for redundancy”.
It is impossible to deploy fiber across all island for the archipelago country
Indonesia is an archipelago country with thousands island separated in extensively area. It is impossible to lay fiber optic cable in that area to connect all cities. In most rural backhaul situations, distances are large, terrains are difficult, and bandwidth is small. In such cases satellite becomes the most straightforward solution. So the first market entry in rural areas will be satellite.
Satellite is the key to connect the cities in main islands to rural areas or new market with limited access.
Satellite connectivity is an obvious means of overcoming difficult terrain and geographic constraints, but conventional SCPC links fall short of offering the flexibility to dynamically adjust to changing calling patterns. Optical fiber and leased lines are hard to deploy, with long installation timelines. Microwave links are costly to deploy and maintain and have limited reach capabilities. Cellular providers need a more cost-effective backhaul solution. Today, VSAT TDMA connectivity is literally transforming the landscape of the cellular backhaul market.
First time Telkomflexi launched deployment its CDMA2000 1X infrastructures in November 2003. The main services offered are basic voice, short message and data. Country like Indonesia, Philippines and India need more backhaul capacity. These countries in general are concentrated in metropolitan cities and that is very saturated. With its core markets saturated, Telkom as the biggest operator look to extend their services to the one billion people in markets that currently have limited or no access to cellular services.
Picture 2. VSAT IP Configuration for cellular backhaul
New innovations in cellular infrastructure and unified IP networks enable operators for the first time to pursue rural markets more cost effectively. But, to do so, cellular coverage must expand to those rural markets, including the smallest towns and villages where there is no terrestrial infrastructure in place. In these areas, optical fiber and leased lines are not easily deployable or perhaps not even feasible. And microwave links are too costly to install and maintain, especially over long distances and in difficult terrain, as they have limited reach and require line of sight to operate.
Satellite backhaul for entry market
Providing voice and data services, everywhere, is a key requirement for today’s service providers. So by utilising Satellite Cellular Backhaul I want to say that TELKOMFlexi can extend the ability to provide these services to otherwise extremely difficult or cost prohibitive areas, including:
• Where topography or distance restricts connection to mobile networks
• Disaster areas where emergency communications are needed
• Cruise ships, maritime shipping, oil rigs and motorized transport such as commercial trucking
Satellite Backhaul: VSAT IP
In future we will convert our existing configuration to VSAT IP. We expect by implementing this technology will gain more for TELKOM. Satellite backhaul links have traditionally used a fixed amount of bandwidth in an always-on mode whether traffic is flowing or not.
VSAT IP Configuration consist of :
- The satellite – utilize TELKOM1 Satellite at C-Band frequency
- The HUB VSAT-IP function is to provide control center of entirely remote VSAT
- The Remote VSAT-IP is ground segment equipment to bridge communication between remote BTS and BSC
- It requires IP MPLS network as backbone transmission to connect BSC system and the Hub VSAT IP.
New innovations in cellular infrastructure and satellite backhauling now enable operators to more profitably pursue customers in rural markets. Advanced IP-based D-TDMA solution enables carriers to share network capacity across multiple locations, allocating bandwidth on demand to maximize efficiency while reducing costs. This platform can be easily scaled to add capacity as markets develop and traffic increases. Compatible with all major cellular infrastructure solutions, it provides terrestrial-like voice quality with advanced quality of service features by constantly prioritizing real-time applications to avoid network congestion and service degradation.
Palapa Ring Project
The project is undergoing in Indonesia. It will connect all districts/cities across Indonesia (440 points of connection). The developer may also deliver telecommunication and broadband accesses and services. There will be new telecommunication operator (i.e. a consortium) having nationwide license competing with incumbents. Communication and internet access will be available across Indonesia at more affordable price. It will significantly change telecommunication industry landscape in Indonesia. Incentive will be given with the consultation and approval from Ministry of Finance when involving tax and/or non-tax revenue aspects. Project estimation costs USD 255.1 million
Palapa Ring will integrate the existing backbone currently owns by TELKOM and others in west region to east region. For some big cities there will be Metro Ethernet which supplied fiber as backhaul for access network.
As the demand of cellular backhaul for rural areas or area with limited access is still significant, satellite will have to be continued especially for Indonesia. To anticipate the market TELKOM will launch satellite TELKOM 3 to substitute the existing satellite which last in few years. This satellite will support demand on terestrial links and connect fiber optic network existing own by TELKOM. It will carry 32 C-band transponders and 10 Ku-transponders or equivalent to 49 TPE. The satellite TELKOM 3 mass will be 1600 kg, payload power – 5.6 kW, lifetime – 15 years. The satellite shall be manufactured and launched into the orbit in the middle of 2011.
• Backhaul over satellite remains important for archipelago like Indonesia.
• VSAT IP will provide better solution for cellular/wireless backhaul allowing assign satellite bandwidth on-demand and quality of services.
• By implementing VSAT IP network operator can also utilize backhaul over satellite to provide 3G and 3.5G network access.