Kominfo To Start Refarming in 9 Clusters To Ramp Up Digital Connectivity

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology will start re-farming the 2.3 GHz Radio Frequency Band in 9 clusters. Minister of Communication and Information Johnny G. Plate stated that the refarming is aimed at improving the quality of digital connectivity through cellular services by allocating the use of radio frequency spectrum efficiently.

"Refarming of the 2.3 GHz radio frequency band is planned to take place nationally with the first step starting on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 and will be completed in September 2021 at the latest," he explained in Jakarta, Wednesday (14/07/2021).

The implementation of the refarming is targeted to be completed in September 2021. According to the Minister of Communication and Information, the refarming will take place in 9 clusters that have been mutually agreed upon by all users of the 2.3 GHz frequency band, including Telkomsel and Smart as the Winners of Selection for 2.3 GHz Frequency Band Users for the Purpose of Operating Cellular Mobile Networks. 

In addition to the two cellular operators, this refarming will also involve PT Berca Hardayaperkasa as a packet switched-based local fixed network operator (BWA operator) which is also a user of the 2.3 GHz frequency band.

"It starts in a cluster that covers the Riau Islands and is planned to be completed no later than September 2021 in a cluster that covers the East Java area. Overall, there are a total of 9 clusters defined for the purposes of refarming the 2.3 GHz radio frequency band," he explained.

Minister Johnny stated that the step of refarming the frequency spectrum was taken to enable the deployment of 5G services with better quality while at the same time supporting the optimal use of 4G.

"There are many advantages and benefits for the cellular service user community, especially related to improving the quality of services that can be enjoyed by customers, both 4G and 5G services," he said.

According to the Minister of Communication and Information, the improvement in service quality is possible because of the optimization of the use of the radio frequency spectrum.

"The radio frequency spectrum can be utilized optimally, so the capacity of the cellular network will also increase so as to be able to keep up with the growth of data traffic which continues to grow rapidly, even at a number of points when network congestion occurs," he explained.

Minister Johnny stated that the Government implemented a Technology Neutral policy based on the evolution of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) technology standards or commonly known by the public and industry as 3G, 4G, and 5G technology.

"The Technology Neutral Policy applies to all radio frequency bands used to provide cellular services, including the 2.3 GHz radio frequency band," he explained.

The Minister of Communication and Information stated that the Technology Neutral policy is expected to make it easier for cellular service operators to choose which IMT technology to implement.

"Cellular operators can be more flexible and flexible in implementing IMT-Advanced technology or commonly known as 4G (LTE) and operators can also apply IMT-2020 technology or better known as 5G. As long as the cellular operator has obtained a Certificate of Operational Worthiness (SKLO) from the Ministry of Communication and Informatics," he explained.

On May 17, 2021, the Ministry of Communications and Informatics determined PT Telekomunikasi Selular (TSEL) and PT Smart Telecom (SMART) as the winners of the 2021 2.3 GHz frequency band user selection. TSEL won Block A and Block C, while SMART won Block B. Third The selected block is a radio frequency band of 2.3 GHz outside the stipulation of PT Berca Hardayaperkasa's Radio Frequency Band License (IPFR) in the frequency band range of 2360 – 2390 MHz.

Based on the picture before refarming, there are conditions for determining the use of non-contiguous radio frequency bands. Targeted by refarming with the previous determination, namely to TSEL and SMART.

In accordance with Article 6 of the Regulation of the Minister of Communication and Information Technology Number 4 of 2020 concerning the Use of Radio Frequency Spectrum in the 2.3 GHz Radio Frequency Band, if there is a non-contiguous determination of IPFR, then further refarming must be carried out on the frequency band ,3 GHz.

The technical implementation of refarming, especially for 2 (two) operators, namely BERCA and SMART, is carried out through the process of moving radio frequency bands (retuning) from existing radio frequency bands to new radio frequency bands gradually in each predetermined cluster.

The implementation refers to the Decree of the Minister of Communication and Informatics Number 300 of 2021 concerning Refarming of Radio Frequency Bands 2,3. Second, the Decree of the Director General of SDPPI Number 121 of 2021 concerning Technical Guidelines for the Implementation of Refarming of the 2.3 GHz Radio Frequency Band.

The refarming policy is binding and will be implemented by all telecommunications operators who are IPFR holders in the 2.3 GHz radio frequency band consisting of 2 (two) mobile cellular network operators, namely TSEL and SMART, as well as packet switched local fixed network operators, namely BERCA. .

The Ministry of Communication and Informatics has prepared technical coordination steps among operators using the 2.3 GHz radio frequency band to avoid harmful interference. The provisions for carrying out technical coordination have been regulated in the Regulation of the Director General of SDPPI Number 2 of 2021 concerning Technical Coordination and Procedures for Reporting the Use of Radio Frequency Spectrum in the 2.3 GHz Radio Frequency Band.

In order to mitigate and maintain the quality of cellular services to the community to be maintained at the best level, the Ministry of Communications and Informatics will carry out the transfer of radio frequency bands in each cluster when the majority of data traffic conditions are relatively low, namely at 23.00 local time until 02.00 the next day. In general, the technical transfer of the radio frequency band itself is only about 1 to 1 s.d. 2 hours.

Furthermore, until 18.00 the next day, network performance monitoring is carried out by BERCA or SMART, including through the drive test mechanism. Thus, it is hoped that it will minimize the potential for interference in the 2.3 GHz radio frequency band.

If the condition of network performance after the transfer of the radio frequency band can be maintained at an adequate level, then the process of moving the radio frequency band in the cluster can be declared complete. Overall, the Refarming process in a cluster can be completed in less than 24 hours.

In order to support the success of the refarming process, the Ministry of Communications and Informatics through the Technical Implementation Unit of Radio Frequency Spectrum Monitoring Centers and Workshops also conducts supervision and control in the field during refarming of the 2.3 GHz radio frequency band.

One of the activities prepared is Frequency Clearance at least twice, namely before the process of moving radio frequency bands and after moving radio frequency bands, according to a predetermined schedule.

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