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Shareholders of PT Telekomunikasi Seluler (Telkomsel), the nation’s largest cellular operator, introduced Thursday Sarwoto Atmosutarno as the company’s new president director replacing Kiskenda Suriahardja.
Sarwoto moves on from his post as executive general manager of the infrastructure division for Telkomsel’s parent state-run PT Telkom, the nation’s largest telecom firm. Telkomsel is 65 percent owned by publicly listed Telkom, while the remaining 35 percent is owned by Singapore Telecom Mobile Pte Ltd.
“My priority will be to improve the quality of our voice and broadband products by expanding network and bandwidth. This is to keep up with the current stiff competition,” Sarwoto told The Jakarta Post Thursday after the inauguration.
“I will also take advantage of the market community of both Telkom and Telkomsel customers, and leverage synergy between the companies to boost efficiency.”
The replacement of Telkomsel’s chief was made without going through the regular shareholder’s meeting, amid the company’s losing price war against rivals that sent its profits plunging by 7 percent during the first nine months of last year to Rp 9.7 trillion (US$858 million) from Rp 9.08 trillion in the same period of 2007 despite a 36 percent jump in subscribers to 60.5 million, or a 46 percent market share.
Telkomsel is the operator of Kartu Halo, Simpati and Kartu As. This year, Kartu Halo’s call rate fell 30 percent, Simpati’s by 47 percent and Kartu AS’s by 25 percent.
“We are going to see the price war more wisely. That’s why we’re going to focus on improving our service (rather) than getting drowned with our rivals in cutting the call rates,” said Sarwoto, who is a Telkom career official dealing mostly with satellite technology.
Indonesia is home to 11 GSM and CDMA-based cellular phone operators, backed by international giants including Qatar Telecom, Telekom Malaysia, Saudi Telecom, and Hutchison Telecommunications International.
Telkomsel’s former president director Kiskenda, who was on the post since 2005, said in November last year that the company had been more supportive of the public by providing cheaper call rates than to the shareholders by slapping on higher rates to earn more profits. “This is the consequence (of the cheap rate), which eventually (has) trimmed our profit,” said Kiskenda in his defense over Telkomsel’s slumped first nine months profits.