Medan, located on the northern coast of Indonesia, is the capital of the North Sumatra province. It is the fourth most populated city in the country, boasting a large number of mobile broadband users and a high density of buildings. Competition between operators is fierce, and as the market leader, Telkomsel needed to ensure it was providing the best mobile broadband service to its customers in order to stay on top.
Telkomsel customers reported problems with accessibility and download speed. Looking to improve the customer experience, Telkomsel partnered with Ericsson to carry out an optimization program known as the Golden Cluster. The program was conducted in the Medan city area over six months. As part of the project, Telkomsel’s Network and Engineering Project Group and Ericsson worked closely with each other to ensure the project ran smoothly. Together, they defined the timeline of the program, the optimum user experience, and the necessary improvements to the network to achieve this.
Ericsson and Telkomsel took an innovative approach to the network design – by understanding app coverage rather than traditional Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Andrias Indra, VP ICT Network Management, Sumatra Area PT, Telkomsel, explains the reasoning behind this: “Sometimes KPIs show that the network is working well, but it does not reflect on the user experience. So we decided to use a different method.”
The project started by assessing the accessibility, capacity, and quality of the network. User experience tests and detailed analysis of the network performance were carried out to understand issues. A wide range of optimization activities including parameter optimization, antenna tilting, and hardware, capacity and feature improvements were executed in the network to address bottlenecks. One of the main aims was to improve coverage in crowded places, such as shopping centers and schools, and during peak times.
With full support from Telkomsel, Ericsson delivered and optimized the networks according to user needs. By combining local and global expert knowledge with the right tools and products, such as Ericsson RAN Analyzer and AIR, the network performance and user experience were drastically improved.
Following the network improvements, Telkomsel assessed the network by carrying out tests on activities that users normally perform, such as accessing YouTube and downloading files over the internet. The results were compared with data from before Ericsson’s Golden Cluster project, and showed improvements in download speeds. “We also did a benchmark test with two other big operators and saw that the download speed of our network is much better than the others,” says Andrias Indra.
When looking at the results of the tests following the project, the enhancements to the network are clear. Downlink throughput improved by 74 percent and uplink throughput improved by 56 percent. Video streaming coverage increased 180 percent, voice call drop rate reduced by 60 percent and signal strength coverage was enhanced by 28 percent.
These improvements have been acknowledged by Telkomsel’s customers. “The user experience of our customers in Medan is improving. This was indicated by the increase in data subscribers in Medan of about eight percent,” says Muhammad Idham Kadir, Service Quality Assurance Manager, Region North Sumatra, Telkomsel. The addition of new subscribers resulted in a 13 percent revenue increase in 5 months in the area where the Golden Cluster project was carried out.
The improvements to customer experience have been significant, and Telkomsel is looking to build on this success by initiating similar projects in other cities around Indonesia. Muhammad Idham Kadir considers the future possibilities: “We are very happy with the Golden Cluster project. We really hope that the program can be continued in other areas because this has given significant benefits to improve our network reliability, especially for the broadband services quality.”