This rise in mobile phone internet user penetration serves as a positive indicator for further expansion opportunities. To give you an idea of the potential – Indonesia has the fourth-highest number of Facebook & Twitter users in the world.
ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: Can you give us an introduction about PT Protelindo?
AMING SANTOSO: We started off as a small telecommunication tower provider. During the 2008 financial crisis, Protelindo acquired over 3600 towers from Hutchison. In March 2010, our company went public on the IDX as “TOWR”. In 2015, we acquired iForte to strengthen and expand our portfolio to provide Fibre and VSAT services across Indonesia. We have transformed our previously known tagline from “a premium tower company” to now, a “telecommunication infrastructure company”. To date, Protelindo owns and operates over 17,000 towers, serving 29,000 tenants. We have consistently shown results to our investors and proven our reliability towards our creditors and thus, Protelindo was able to grow at such a fast pace. Of all 3 rating agencies, we are one of the few private sector companies deemed as an investment grade company.
ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: Indonesia is such a large country with a wide geographical area. With growing demands for high-speed networks, what are PT Protelindo’s plan for expansion?
AMING SANTOSO: Our business strategy is to Build Buy and Return. Build refers to organic growth; Buy in the form of acquisitions; Return in terms of producing better yield to our investors.
As you have accurately pointed out, Indonesia is a large country. As Mr. Rudiantara, Minister of ICT has emphasized, there needs to be better network coverage for the people of Indonesia and we are here to aid that. We at Protelindo are open to collaborating with potential partners as we foresee that we can further grow our business to tap on these opportunities especially for the rural areas.
ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: According to Minister Rudiantara, the fostering of partnerships among the telco players is key to developing the telecommunication infrastructure. Would you say this gives reason for the more partnerships to drive connectivity?
AMING SANTOSO: Yes and fortunately, we have good collaborations and close connections with the local operators. Due to the surge of data usage in Indonesia, more capacity is required which translates to the need for more fibre optics. We want to remain aggressive and we intend to double or even triple our fibre optic network in the years to come.
Protelindo is actively looking into forming partnerships with others who are able to work with us and mutually strengthen our range of network services.
ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: The outlook for 2018 in Indonesia is projected at 5.3% GDP growth. How do you see the telco infrastructure sector moving forward?
AMING SANTOSO: With the rising demand for data connectivity and the expansion outside Java, I am extremely positive for our sector and look forward to seeing positive growth in the years to come.
The switching from a voice model to a data-centric model pushes the need for more capacity. These changes, as mentioned, are particularly good news for our line of business. For this year, we expect the amount of data usage per connection to go up over 60%. As tower providers, we effective provide the capital to the operators for the passive infrastructure so that they can use their capex effectively on equipment.
ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: With speculations on the upcoming elections in 2019, many investors remain conservative in their decisions on investments in Indonesia. How do you position Protelindo in order guarantee the continuation of business?
AMING SANTOSO: In the telco infrastructure sector, Protelindo is reputable and known for its exemplary services. We proudly set the benchmark for others to follow. Additionally, we are a product of proven success and it all began with the collaboration between a trusted local partner and a good foreign investor. They initially identified opportunities in Indonesia and invited us to become their partner. In less than 10 years, we have achieved at its peak, IDR. 40 Trillion Market Cap.
ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: What would be your message of confidence for our readers at the Washington Post, and why should foreign businesses collaborate with local companies to invest in Indonesia, particularly in the telco infrastructure sector?
AMING SANTOSO: Firstly, the telco infrastructure is a very exciting sector and very good business to be in. It has shown potential of delivering very good returns to its investors. This rise in mobile phone internet user penetration serves as a positive indicator for further expansion opportunities. To give you an idea of the potential – Indonesia has the fourth-highest number of Facebook & Twitter users in the world. It is definitely the right time for investors to enter the Indonesia market for potential partnerships.