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One of the most important priorities for expatriates living in Jakarta is being able to communicate easily with people in Jakarta as well as with loved ones overseas.
Enormous strides have been made in the telecommunications systems in Indonesia in recent years. A few decades ago it was extremely difficult to obtain a telephone line for your home. Today, in major urban areas, the situation has vastly improved and many homes already have a phone line and often two installed. New landline installations have really slowed down as more and more people just use mobile phones.
If you are certain you need more lines that the house already has installed, check with the district office of Telkom to see if they are available, BEFORE you sign your lease. Don't rely on a prospective landlord's promise, “I'm sure you can add a line”.
Phone numbers in Indonesia may have 5 (outside Jakarta), 6 (old numbers), 7 (the standard) or even 8 digits (newer exchanges). When you are receiving a phone number from someone verbally, confirm the number as well as the number of digits.
Paying your phone bill
Ask your landlord for the proof of payment for the last phone bill prior to your move in as well as the location where your phone bill should be paid.
After the 10th of the month, you can call Telkom's Customer Service desk at 109 (press 2 for English) and you can find out the amount due through the recording. You can also check online to check your current usage or see what your current telephone bill is.
Your phone charges for the previous month's usage should be paid between the 5th and the 20th of the month. It is best to pay earlier in the month as the closer you get to the 20th the longer the lines get. If you pay between the 20th and the 30th, an additional charge will be added to your bill. If you don't pay by the 30th, the phone company will automatically stop your ability to make outgoing calls, but you will still be able to receive incoming phone calls. You will know this has occurred when you pick up the phone you get a recording telling you that you didn't pay your phone bill!
If you have a bank account with one of the Indonesian banks, it is possible to pay your phone bill online or via ATM in many cases.
Payments can also be made by e-banking (BCA, BII, Permata Bank ) and credit card (BCA, BNI, Citibank).
Problems with telephones in Indonesia
Despite the great strides made in recent years in the development of the phone system, there are still problems in the system. Especially during the rainy season, clarity is affected when water seeps into telephone connection boxes and phone lines to distort transmissions. If this should occur, it is best to just hang up and dial again and you may get a clearer line.
When problems occur with your phone, call the Service Point for your area. In Jakarta, dial 117 and they will give you the phone number for your Service Point. Note that number as you may need it again in the future!
Some common problems include static on the line (often caused by a line that has been cut by kids flying kites) or outages in entire areas (which may take weeks to solve). While phone installations in homes used to include a free phone, Telkom is no longer replacing broken phones for free. If your phone unit is not working, ask your landlord to replace it.
Making domestic long distance calls
In dialing a long distance number within Indonesia you preface the phone number with a city code. Before the city code you dial “0”. For example, when calling a Bandung number from Jakarta you dial 0-22 and then the phone number. From outside Indonesia, calling into Indonesia, you will have to dial the country code of Indonesia 62 followed by the city code. You don't need to dial the additional “0” that you use domestically (calling inside Indonesia). For a list of city codes, see Wikipedia.
Information on making Overseas Phone Calls from Indonesia
Internet Telephony - the cheapest way to call home
The popularity of callback has waned as new technologies are becoming available in Jakarta which allow you to save up to 80% on your international phone calls and faxes. Known as VOIP, Internet telephony or Internet Phone, these services are easy to use and don't require the purchase of any new equipment. All you need is your phone and an internet connection to reach more phone numbers across the world.
One highly recommended company is Skype. All parties have to download Skype software, which is free, and the calls are free when you're talking over your computer's internet connection. All you need to buy is a headset with integrated microphone. The "SkypeOut" option for calling land lines and cell phones in other countries is available - you just open an account with a deposit, and use the funds up as you call. This is much cheaper than the old options and you can call anybody, anywhere.
The Skype interface is user-friendly and even a bit goofy (teen-style) and it works. You can see if somebody's online. As in an IM, you click on their name, and the other computer rings like a phone. They click to pick up, and you start talking. You can send instant messages at the same time, and huge files too (pictures). It works with and among Windows, Mac, Linux, Pocket PC. If you get a call and aren't there, but you computer is on, it leaves a "missed call" message.
One person's feedback on Skype: I use Skype all the time for long distance calls. I'm in Ireland at the moment and the cost difference between calling cards and Skype is about 60% per min cheaper using Skype. You can download it from www.skype.com and you pay for the calls via paypal or your credit card. There are a few different ways to pay.
Expat Forum thread on Vonage in Indonesia
Special Telephone Services
Installation of a parallel line in your home (second phone on the same number) as well as a fax or modem requires registration with Telkom for a minimal fee. If Telkom discovers that you have an unregistered modem or fax on your home phone, you can be fined. You can also install an ISDN line in your home which will vastly improve data transmission, though the cost is comparatively very high.
One of the frustrations with the phone system in Indonesia is the difficulty you will undoubtedly encounter in trying to locate phone numbers for various offices and individuals. The phone company lists the phone number according to the person who owns the property, who may not necessarily be the occupant. Therefore it is impossible to call Directory Assistance and ask for an expatriate friend's phone number, as all expatriates lease their homes from Indonesian owners so the phone listing is in the owners name. It can even be difficult to get the phone number for a well-known shop or office if they rent their facilities, or the phone is in the company name, not the shop's name.
Because of this, the expatriate community puts out a plethora of phone directories, like the Jakarta Shopper's Guide. You will soon find yourself relying on the directories of international schools, women's organizations, business associations and special interest groups to find your the phone numbers you need.
In your residence you will undoubtedly experience difficulties with the speed and quality of modem transmissions. While your modem may in theory be capable of transmitting over 56 kbps, you may find that your phone line may only be able to transmit at 19.2 kbps or 9.6 kbps. While your ISP may tell you to set your com port settings faster than this, you may soon find out that the modem cannot connect or transmit at this high baud rate. In this case, change your com port settings to a lower setting to enable transmission.
Most expatriates opt for one of the more reliable broadband or other high speed internet access options.
When cellular phones were first available in Indonesia they were an accessory to the wealthy members of society. Now, due to the affordability of the units available as well as the extremely reasonable telephone rates, many average Indonesians own a 'hand phone' including maids and drivers. Everyday communication has been made instantaneous because of access to these mobile phones.
Indonesians are one of the biggest users of Facebook in the world and recently are the leading user of Twitter. This has been made possible by the availability of the internet through smart phones as well as Blackberry/iPhone/Android units which are popular with most city dwellers in Indonesian.
The hand phone market is extremely aggressive in Indonesia and makers of hand phones are launching new models almost every six months. Severe competition from China offering extremely cheap alternatives are forcing better known brands such as Nokia and Blackberry to continuously be more aggressive in their marketing efforts. Operators are also offering extremely competitive payment plans realizing that the mass usage will cover the cheaper rates that they are offering. Choosing which operator will best fill your needs will depend on what you use your hand phone for. A young executive who is constantly checking emails, or a teenager who is a Facebook addict will need unlimited internet while driver may only need to be able to communicate using the basic phone service. It is best to ask around with friends and colleagues to see what is the best service for you.
Operator Assisted Calls within Indonesia 100, 105, 106
Operator Assisted Calls Overseas 101, 104
Information on Jakarta telephone numbers - 108
Information on Overseas telephone numbers - 102
Telephone bill information 109
Telephone complaints/repair 117
Last updated December 20, 2012.
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