Indonesia Working on 5G Airwave Sale Leaves Door Open for Huawei

(Bloomberg) -- Indonesia is preparing to auction additional airwaves to telecom carriers to allow them offer 5G services and will ensure a level-playing field to wireless equipment suppliers including Huawei Technologies Co.

The government is taking steps to guarantee adequate spectrum will be available for mobile-phone carriers before deciding on a schedule for the sale, Communications Minister Johnny G. Plate said in an interview on Friday. While some carriers have been conducting trials of 5G services, there’s no deadline for them to begin commercial services, he said.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest market for telecom services, will be guided only by “its national interest” in deciding on technology and equipment vendors for 5G services, Plate said. The minister dismissed concerns of Huawei equipment being used to snoop on China’s behalf, a charge leveled by the U.S. in the blacklisting of the firm, saying “everyone is spying on each other these days.”

Huawei has repeatedly denied allegations that it’s aiding Beijing in spying. The U.S. has also curbed sales of technology that Huawei has used in some of its phones and telecommunications equipment, creating the risk that customers of the company won’t be able to update software in its devices.

“For the interest of Indonesians, we’re open to everyone and committed to providing a level-playing field,” said Plate, who was appointed to the job last month by President Joko Widodo. “The U.S. must have its reasons for not liking Huawei. Indonesia may not share similar concerns with the U.S., as well as with China. We are open to anyone, both bilaterally and multilaterally.”

Indonesia Working on 5G Airwave Sale Leaves Door Open for Huawei

Huawei, the largest Chinese technology company, has been one of the key equipment suppliers for Indonesian carriers. The country of about 350 million mobile-phone users may be several years away from launching 5G services, according to PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia, the nation’s biggest operator.

“We can’t avoid 5G as it will be there sooner or later,” Plate said. “But at the moment there are investments in 4G and the government has to make sure the operators can do proper business to recover the investments they made in the past.”

With data sovereignty becoming a key concern for nations around the world, Indonesia is drafting a law for data protection and aims to secure parliamentary approval next year, Plate said. The government is looking at a global benchmark for the proposed law and has studied the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation as a model, he said.

“The economic value of data is more than crude oil, hence data related to security, cyber security and cyber crime must be well managed,” Plate said. “We’re preparing to submit the bill to the parliament on data protection.”

The government in the world’s fourth-largest populous country wants social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to block and take down negative contents which can cause “civil unrest and social disharmony,” the minister said.

“The state must be present to preserve the civil rights by limiting access when a digital platform is used for drugs trafficking, gambling, pornography, human trafficking and transmission of violent acts,” he said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.