Updated 7 months ago

Fortunately, Indonesia now has the relevant technology for foreigners living in the country to keep in touch easily with loved ones abroad. Read this article to find out more about mobile phone and internet connection.

In Indonesia, you should find it relatively easy to install an internet connection in your home, and there’s free Wi-Fi in many restaurants. If you bring an unlocked phone, you’ll be able to gain access to a 4G/LTE service in many parts of the country through certain carriers, and would just need to purchase a sim card.

When choosing a mobile phone service or internet provider, it's a good idea to get advice from friends and colleagues living in the country to find out which provider will give you the best deals, security, and coverage.

A priority for many expatriates living in Indonesia is to be able to phone their loved ones overseas. The cost of making international calls and sending SMS can vary from provider to provider, but if you find the rates too steep then you can also keep in touch with people back home via the many means of communications such as Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook messenger, or by using pre-paid international calling cards. Before buying a SIM card, it is worth checking with the service provider about the costs, and whether there are any non-peak periods for overseas calls that could make contact more affordable.


Make sure to inquire from other expatriates regarding the actual costs of a SIM card and what comes it with, that is, airtime and data, or if you have to purchase those separately. It is very easy to scam foreigners who purchase sim cards by making them pay extra for data and airtime that’s already included with the purchase of a sim card.

Service providers in Indonesia

Most major cities in Indonesia have a fairly strong telecommunications structure for mobile phone services, and most Indonesians are part of a mobile network. Telkomsel, XL Axiata, Indosat, Axis, Telkom Indonesia, 3, Smartfren Telecom, and Excelcomindo are some of the country's most popular service providers. Telkomsel has invested heavily in BTS (Base Transceiver Stations) throughout Indonesia and generally has the best reputation for offering reliable coverage, even in remote areas of the country.

You may hear mobile phones being commonly referred to as handphones, which is often abbreviated to HP. The HP has become an indispensable part of business and personal life in Indonesia, to the extent that many companies provide their high-level employees with one. You may wish to negotiate a phone and payment of your phone bill as part of your contract before you move.

One of the reasons for why there are so many mobile phone subscriptions is that SIM cards are so cheap. Pre-paid starter packs with credit bonuses are available for pittance. As a result of the affordability, many people simply buy a pre-paid SIM card, rather than a fixed monthly contract, and then they just buy another SIM if a better deal comes along. Interestingly, as a result of this throw-away mindset, Indonesia has one of the highest amounts of inactive numbers in the world.

You can also choose your number when buying a SIM card, and vendors may offer you a nomor cantik, which translates to a 'beautiful number'. This is a series of digits that fall in a pattern that is easy to remember.

Although monthly subscription plans, which are known as pascabayar or post-paid plans, are available, most people opt for pre-paid plans and top up the pulsa (credit) when need be. You can buy pulsa in two forms — as a voucher or electronically.

 Good to know:

If you buy a voucher for a pre-paid plan, then be sure to check on the back of the card that it has not expired. It is also advisable to scratch off the silver layer over the recharge code and input the details in front of the vendor so that you have immediate assistance if there are any issues, and to avoid being scammed as well.

Although it is frustrating when credit runs out, you can buy pulsa at any time of day, and it can even be purchased at an ATM, online, or at many 24-hour convenience stores or street stalls. Vendors generally sell pulsa in amounts that range from IDR5,000 to IDR100,000.

As of 2017, a new regulation in Indonesia requires that everyone registers their Indonesian handphone number. Foreigners can do this through their service provider's website or store by submitting their passport, as well as their KITAS or KITAP (permit cards) if they have one. The staff will then register all their details, but foreigners are still required to re-register their handphone every six months, or services will be gradually blocked, then eventually deactivated.

Internet in Indonesia

Much to the relief of the expat community living in Indonesia, the country is starting to enter the era of fast internet connection, but speed can still be quite low in certain areas due to a general lack of infrastructure.

However, different internet service providers (ISP) can vary greatly in terms of price and connection. Some ISPs are more popular than others due to having better deals or customer service, but one of the biggest differences between ISPs is their bandwidth management.

Biznet, First Media, IndiHome, MNC Play Media, MyRepublic, and Indosat Ooredoo GIG are generally considered to be some of the best ISPs in the country.

When you're researching the different ISPs in Indonesia, it's a good idea to find out from friends and colleagues what service provider they use, and request up-to-date recommendations. Before signing up with a provider, inquire as to their bandwidth, their current ratio of users to bandwidth, and whether they offer cable, ADSL, satellite, or wireless connection as options.

ISPs in Indonesia usually charge a basic monthly fee for a certain number of hours, with additional fees for overuse. Before you sign on the dotted line, ask if any value packages or any premium services are available to customers. It's even worth calling the customer service desk to see if anyone can help you in English, as this can save you stress down the line if you have any issues.

Alternatively, you may prefer to consider cable internet connection, which connects you to the internet through another cable instead of a land line, and can have several advantages.

 Useful links:


Biz Networks
First Media
MNC Play
My Republic
Indosat Ooredoo


Indosat Ooredoo

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