Jakarta, December 23th, 2020. PT XL Axiata Tbk (XL Axiata)'s preparation attempts to strive for the network implementation of 5G services. A number of initiatives have been implemented to increase network capacity and efficiency, including radio, transport, and cores. A number of 5G trials have also been carried out since 2017 until now. The 4G / 5G Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) trial, is one of frequently-completed technology that enables the utilization of the same spectrum for 4G and 5G services.
5G services will be a solution for the continued increase in data traffic for years to come, as data traffic is expected to continue to dominate. One of the main needs such as video services, a service with a large capacity, is predicted to reach 82% of data traffic by 2022. As of now the network of PT XL Axiata Tbk (XL Axiata) has stretched from Sabang to Merauke, including in urban and inland areas, with a 100% LTE network. As of December 2020, XL Axiata's service coverage covers 34 provinces, 458 cities/regencies, and 60,623 villages, including 353 3T villages (USO) with a total BTS of 143 thousand. This also includes the nation-wide fiber-optic network, stretching for more than 100,000 km.
Network capacity and efficiency improvements are carried out as a whole, both in radio, transport, and core networks. Radio-wise, improvements were made by modernizing radio equipment and implementing Carrier Aggregation. To innovate and increase network penetration, XL Axiata is also testing Open RAN technology. On the transportation aspect, fiberization and Segment Routing are carried out. In the core network, XL Axiata applies Cloud-based Core and Distributed Core technology, as well as Control and User Plan Separation. In addition to increasing network capacity and efficiency, in preparation for 5G, XL Axiata has also conducted a series of 5G-related trials, such as outdoor 5G, 5G eMBB, smart cities, holograms, and testing of several 5G spectrums such as millimeter waves, and DSS.
Director & Chief Technology Officer of XL Axiata, I Gede Darmayusa, states, “Sooner or later 5G services will definitely be implemented in Indonesia, thereof we never stop preparing our network through a series of innovations. However, 5G services certainly require the readiness of other ecosystems, including the availability of a 5G spectrum with optimal bandwidth."
According to Gede, a spectrum with a larger channel width is a priority need in order to provide a true 5G experience. 5G technology innovation allows connections with a much larger capacity, and for that, a wider bandwidth channel is needed. After the 2.3GHz auction is over, XL Axiata is waiting for the next 5G spectrum auction, namely 700MHz, 2.6GHz, 3.5GHz, 28GHz with a total of 1280MHz. XL Axiata hopes that the procurement of the 5G spectrum can be realized by the government's plan.
Gede hopes that the entire 5G technology ecosystem actually can be formed in Indonesia, such as the availability of the 5G spectrum, infrastructure, use case, and user device readiness that is affordable to customers. 5G services have begun to be implemented in several developed countries, and will soon be implemented in Indonesia. According to him, many preparations must be made and go hand in hand, both from the operator side and also the supporting ecosystem.
Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) Trial
Only most recently, XL Axiata is preparing the network for the implementation of 5G by testing the 4G / 5G Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) technology. This technology allows utilization of the same spectrum for 4G and 5G services and is tested on the network currently owned by XL Axiata, namely 1800MHz and 2100MHz. The trial, which was conducted in the Depok area, is at the optimization and performance evaluation stages. For this trial, XL Axiata is working with Ericsson through the ESS (Ericsson Spectrum Sharing) feature.
"The purpose is to see the readiness of the XL Axiata network for 5G. Besides, this trial is also intended to study the effect of implementing 5G on the existing spectrum, especially on services that are currently running, namely 3G and 4G. With 4G / 5G DSS, XL Axiata can take advantage of the same spectrum for 4G and 5G services dynamically, aka sharing between 4G and 5G. When 5G has been implemented and a specific spectrum is available, DSS can be used for solutions to expand the 5G network by utilizing the existing spectrum coverage and capacity," continued Gede.
It should be noted that the term spectrum sharing in the context of DSS is different and has nothing to do with spectrum sharing as regulated in the Job Creation Law. 4G/5G spectrum sharing in DSS refers to the utilization of spectrum to be used for 4G and 5G services alternately. So it is not the same as the concept of sharing networks between operators as regulated in the Job Creation Law.