TeknoBgt: BTS Without Towers to Chinese Cellphones Pressing the American & European Market

The existence of 100,000 telecommunication towers in Indonesia is quite stifling, especially in urban areas that tend to become tower forests. How can the public accept the existence of towers in the future, when this year there will be an additional 10,000 towers?


The tower is an absolute infrastructure for all wireless telecommunications operators, as a place to put BTS antennas (base transceiver stations) to reach customers. Without a tower, operators cannot serve customers scattered in all corners.


The higher the tower where the BTS antenna is placed, the farther it is reached. The radiance of a 42-meter-high tower antenna can reach 2 km to 5 km. The tower with a height of more than 72 meters, can even reach up to 10 km and 15 km.


However, the antenna range must take into account what capacity the BTS it emits. One antenna sector (generally one tower can carry 3 antennas for 3 sectors) with a capacity of 40 channels, in theory can channel the conversations of 1,000 customers in turn.


In the densely packed business district, it is impossible to be covered by only one BTS or 1 regular tower. It could be that in the region there are 3,000 or even more than 10,000 customers. In fact, if the conversation lasts a long time, for example when people are talking about business details, then fewer customers can be served.


So, the operator then built an indoor, micro or pico BTS, whose range is only 100 meters to 200 meters, because it is placed at a maximum height of 15 meters above ground level. Its function is to operate several short BTS, as well as double the service capacity, because within a radius of 2 km it can be served by 10,000 to 20,000 customers.


Two important things in operating a BTS tower are aesthetics and power source. Both are increasingly becoming complex issues, among other things because local governments are increasingly disliked the existence of towers that are emerging more and more as operators need. Likewise, the increasingly expensive electricity used to operate BTS.


Need electric power


Until now, conventional BTS require up to 16,500 watts of electrical power, which is generally painted from PLN, or generators if not reached by the PLN network. The real need for BTS operations is only around 5,000 watts, it can even be 2,000 watts. However, the remaining power of this PLN is used to charge the battery which will automatically be used if the electricity fails.


The existence of the spare battery was very important, considering that PLN still often dies. Generally, with daily charging, the battery that lasts up to two years can replace the role of PLN for six to eight hours.


The idea of reducing the role of PLN – especially if pln’s supply source of coal or petroleum, whose reserves will one day run out – is to utilize natural resources that are cheap and will not run out. Many BTS now use other natural power sources, such as wind, solar power or hydropower (microhydro) whose supply is abundant and does not cause pollution (green BTS).


The wind drives the propeller or turbine on a micro hydro which then rotates the power generator. Similarly, solar rays with solar cell panels generate electricity. Because the source of wind power is indeed ‘wind-wind’, as well as the sun which when it is cloudy or at night does not emit rays, the incoming energy is stored in the batteries. This power is used when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not showing up.


Solar cell panels are perfect for use in equatorial regions such as our country, whose daylight is brightly lit for 365 days a year. Meanwhile, wind power can only be obtained, for example in coastal areas or hilltops where the wind is strong. As for micro hydro, it requires the power of a waterfall or a very fast flow, which will definitely not be available on a flat plain. It should be in the mountains with a stable water supply.


The use of wind power, solar cells or micro hydro, is offset by the increasing efficiency of BTS because of the less need for electric power. If originally 16.5 KVA (kilovolt amperes) was needed, now a new type of BTS only requires electricity below 2,000 watts.


However, to get 2,000 watts of electricity, Telkomsel, for example, had to build a solar cell panel covering an area of at least 150 square meters. Pico or micro BTS, or indoor BTS operated by Telkomsel only require electricity of less than 1,000 watts. Meanwhile, street lights only need solar cell panels covering an area of less than one square meter, to turn on lamps of 100 watts to 200 watts.


Telkomsel has utilized hundreds of green BTS throughout Indonesia. These BTS are not only operated in areas that are not yet or difficult to reach by PLN or electricity generators. Even in urban areas, green BTS have been operated.


Camouflaged antennae


Nowadays, many city or district governments no longer issue permits to build new telecommunication towers, because the number is considered to have crossed the limits of aesthetic tolerance and surrounding security. The existence of the tower has begun to spoil the beauty of the city, because of its rigid shape and is not very beautiful when standing in a park or next to a building in the middle of the city. In addition, conventional BTS require a protective building (shelter) that covers an area of between 3×4 meters or 2×3 meters.


The DKI Jakarta government even threatened to cut down more than 1,700 telecommunication towers in its area, because the eyes of Jakartans have begun to “sepet” see everywhere there are towers. Of the 2,500 towers that have ever been granted building permits (IMB), only 800 are allowed to remain standing. The rest were asked to be cut down and the BTS was merged with a tower that was still allowed to stand.


Not only DKI, many city or regency governments no longer provide IMB, even though operators still need towers for BTS, in an effort to further spread their services. As a result, there are now small pole-shaped towers installed on the roofs of shophouses (shop houses) or mosque towers, due to  6-high poles meters or less do not need IMB.


In Bali, there has long been a ban on towers higher than temples or higher than coconut trees. The construction of higher towers for MSC (master switching center) or BSC (base switching controller) can be done with difficult permits obtained.


Unlike DKI Jakarta, the government of Badung Regency, Bali, cuts down almost all towers and requires operators to rent towers built by certain companies. The towers that were built later became towers that were used with several operators at once.


The tendency of each government in the regions not to issue IMB towers, makes operators assisted by technology vendors to build BTS that do not need towers. In Bali, PT Telkomsel has built several BTS whose antennas are disguised for their existence, because they are affixed or superimposed on electricity poles, lampposts or on billboards. The antennae are even in the form of trees, for example, cypress or coconut trees. The antenna used is no longer in the form of a long box that weighs tens to 100 kilograms, but a box thin and light only 2 kg, so it is not too noticeable.


According to PT Telkomsel’s GM Network in the Bali Nusa Tenggara Region, Ktut Susila Dharma, between the vicinity of Ngurah Rai airport and Kuta to Krobokan, it is planned that there will be 36 BTS without towers. Until the beginning of February, 12 BTS had been built. At

all dense areas that contain problems in licensing, bts will be built that are disguised later.


BTS like the one that has been built in Bali, besides being light, is also economical in electricity, only about 200 watts. Around Ngurah Rai Airport, there are two BTS affixed to PLN poles and on billboards. These two BTS were built because the BTS tower around the road to Uluwatu near the airport was cut down by the Badung Regency government.


This logging makes the communication cut off (drop call) several tens of meters long. So, the most appropriate solution is to build a pico BTS. This type of BTS can reach a radius of up to 200 meters so that there are no more drop calls around the east end of the airport.


Not only in Bali, Telkomsel will also build BTS without towers affixed to PLN poles, street lighting lights, trees, billboards, railway crossing doors or on traffic signs throughout the archipelago’s dense areas. Unlike conventional BTS, this kind of BTS is not equipped with a plate antenna to connect with BSC, but through optical fiber to the donor BTS.


Unlike conventional shelters, BTS without towers are only 1x1x2 meters in size which is complete containing a radio unit, UPS, air conditioning and spare batteries. The BTS created by Alcatel-Lucent is only as big as a soapbox.


People said, some operators do not feel the need to ask for permission when building BTS and installing antennas on PLN billboards or poles. “We are still asking permission from the Badung Regency Government,” said Ktut Susila Dharma.


China Smartphone Presses American & European Markets

Not long ago, news broke that Chinese cellphone makers, which in Indonesia were later recognized as local products, began to look at the market in America and Europe. Even some brands have begun to get a market, for example ZTE or Huawei and some brands made by the Lobo factory in Taiwan.


The news is quite jerky, because it is common knowledge that Chinese cellphones are “not the place” when sold on the two continents. That is, unlike Indonesia or other developing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, the cellphones that sell well in Europe and America are mostly smart phones, not cheap ecek-ecek phones.


Local Brands Lose Fast


Regardless, however, the marketing of Chinese phones to the two continents has hit local brand holders in Indonesia somewhat, such as Nexian, Ti-Phone, HTC, BlueBerry, Cross, Vitell, Ndezo, or as many other local hp brands. Many of the brand’s owners were surprised, why not only they marketed it to the two continents.


A Chinese cellphone importer who sells it under a funny brand said, it should be the hp importer who made the breakthrough by marketing their brand of cellphone abroad, to America and Europe. “We have a plan but we have to slow down. But uh, the factory in China came first,” he said laughing wryly.


But Martono, who owns the Nexian brand with Z Tanzil (Sellular Shop) said he was not surprised by the penetration of Chinese smartphones into the two continents. “We have also marketed Nexian to Malaysia and the market is good,” he said.


However, importers and their owners say, Nexian is not only exported directly from China to Malaysia, but also to India, Pakistan, Banglades, and sold in China itself in addition to other Asian countries. “Don’t forget,

Sellular Shop has been sold to investors from India who also control several local Indian brands, and surely Nexian will also be sold there,” said Hengky Setiawan, owner of ti phone which always appears in his cellphone advertisements.


According to him, there is nothing wrong with indonesian local cellphones being exported abroad, even though it is recognized that Europe and America are not the right markets. Currently, tiPhones are already circulating a lot in Vietnam, but they have not yet gone to other countries and will not enter Japan. He plans in the near future for TiPhone to enter the African market, which he considers wide open and profitable. “The first time we’re going to market the tiPhone to Congo, Africa,” he said.


However, the king of cellphones – who now prefer to be involved in property – Hermes Thamrin, owner of the big Global Teleshop with Nokia, doesn’t believe there are local Chinese-made smartphones entering the American and European markets. He said that the buying culture of Westerners, especially Europeans and Americans, is very different from the buying culture of Indonesians. “The people of the two continents prefer function over appearance and they are very conservative, not as often as Indonesians change cellphones. And, they won’t be using low-end cheap phones, preferring smart phones,” he said earlier this week.


From daily life, it can be seen that the way of using cellphones among the people of the two continents is also different. They are not as demonstrative as our society, cellphones do not look carried everywhere, do not even hesitate to carry “old school” cellphones made seven – ten years ago. Even so, the Nokia Communicator smart phone they don’t like. This is different from Indonesia and the people of pacific countries who once worshipped Communicator.


According to Hermes again, Nokia, however, still leads the market, both in the world and in Indonesia. But he refused to mention Nokia’s market share on the grounds that he no longer understands the industry very well, because it concentrates more on property. “But it’s not right, if the market share of local smartphones is 50 percent beating Nokia,” he said.


Smartphone paint


Various sources in the telecommunications industry market admit, that the market penetration of Chinese brand mobile phones is already high. Some say 50 percent, but pessimistic figures say about 35 percent. This figure is slightly higher than Nokia’s smartphone market share which is perched at around 32 percent, followed by Samsung 12 percent, Sony Ericsson 7 percent and the rest LG and so on, while Motorola is already heading to its death.


Nokia is able to survive for various reasons, including because the user or the user’s family is very satisfied with the durable cellphone, thus causing loyalty to the product. Nokia models can also cater to the tastes of the market that make their products still absorbed, although they are not as large as they were in the decade before the invasion of local smartphone penetration.


Market observers predict that in 2011 it will sell around 50 million smartphones. A total of 30 million of them were bought by those who already had cellphones and wanted to replace them with new cellphones, while the rest were new users. Of that number, by the end of the year the market share of locally made chinese smartphones will indeed rise to a figure close to 50 percent. While Nokia will stay at 28 percent to 30 percent. In terms of volume, aka the number of phones sold, maybe Nokia lost. But from the amount of money earned, it could be that Nokia is still superior to other brands or a combination of local smartphones.


The owners of old famous brands – meaning Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG – could not accept the fact that their market share was eroded by local smartphones. Hengky said, “The results of the GfK (hp market rating surveyor) surveyor are influenced by their interests, so GfK is unlikely to mention a 50 percent share of local cellphones.”


Observers acknowledged that the market share of the famous brand was eroded, especially in the lower classes. Until last year they were still triumphing in upper-middle-class cellphones. Even so, the market share of smart phones since the last two years has been eroded by BlackBerry, and now it has begun to be eroded by local phones, especially Android.


Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 28 local smartphone brands that fill the hp market in Indonesia. Among those numbers are those that only entered the mid-market in 2010, or even late last year. Some have not appeared in the market since

mid-2010. “It’s not missing one growing ten, but missing ten growing ten,” said sarcastically a former local cellphone importer who lost heavily and closed last year, because his cellphone didn’t sell well. At this time, in his warehouse, there are still thousands of unsold cellphones.


Market Demands Are Constantly Moving


The demands of the Indonesian people are indeed moving steadily, from cheap smartphones to cheap smartphones with expensive appearances like QWERTY BB, then to half-smart phones or even smart phones. Now the market even wants smart local phones, which can be met by smartphones with an Android operating system. The price , although not cheap – is starting to be affordable for people whose incomes are increasing.


This trend is evident with the increasing number of used local smartphones in the market that are selling well, even at very slammed prices. However, the growth of the used local cellphone market shows that the quality of local smartphones has begun to be reliable, from before it is very poor. Previously, local cellphone buyers believed that if they could last a year, it would be good.


The demand of importers to vendors to make smart and semi-smart phones, as well as open the eyes of mobile phone manufacturers in China, that they can dominate the market. It is certain that with a much cheaper production price and almost balanced quality with for example the iPad, making the Chinese hp market open in Europe and America.


Nowadays, in the near future, there will be a counterpoint to the iPad issued by SkyBee, which will be named – if so – the SkyPad, which is almost equivalent in capability but much cheaper than the iPad. Quality? It will improve in line with time and market demands.


Chinese smartphone manufacturers believe their ability to create smart phones – not just cheating on other brands’ entrails – will expand their market, not just to Indonesia or Southeast Asian or African countries. So far, they only supply dozens or even dozens of Indonesian cellphone importers, smartphones whose brands and appearances are different, but the stomach contents are the same.


The low price of cellphones made by Chinese vendors sold in America and Europe, almost the same as the prices in Indonesia, had shaken the local market. At present, the market share of Chinese mobile phones on the two continents, it is indeed still small because the public still needs to be convinced that Chinese smartphones can also be as good as Nokia and Sony Ericsson, and it takes time.

Learn More: