Aug 13

XL's 3g going down the drain?Over the last couple of months I was a glowing supporter of XL’s 3G service in Indonesia. Check out my promoting report here. Not only did it work neatly fast for the last 12 months, it had good stability, decent coverage and reliable download speeds.

Unfortunately all this has changed over the last 2-3 weeks dramatically – so I can’t recommend it anymore with good conscience.

Especially the last 2 weeks were a royal pain in the backside, there wasn’t a single day where the service worked as advertised:

Seriously flawed

Yes, you can connect to the service nicely, but unfortunately few to no data is coming through. The Browser usually times out with Page Load Errors and it doesn’t matter, if you use Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera or which location you are in. I tried it on 2 different computers (1 Vista, 1 Windows XP) and half a dozen different locations in Bali.

The funny thing is, that even XL’s GPRS service seems to be affected, as my XL Bebas (Prepaid SIM card) shows similar symptoms when using the GPRS internet service via a mobile phone. You can use it maybe for a few minutes, if at all – then you have to reconnect/connect to have a slim chance of using it again.

Loading websites – if working at all for a few minutes – is crawling slow, there is no difference if local or international websites. Upon disconnecting/connecting again you have a 1 in 5 chance of it working again for a few, usually less than 5 minutes.

This doesn’t seem to be the case not only in Bali, but all over Indonesia. Here is a report from Semanggi/Jakarta (XL 3G sucks again) and another one (Where is my 3G gone?) from Bali.

Clueless Customer Service

When calling XL’s customer service, they only offer you the following steps:

  • they will ‘reset’ your SIM card (upon which the internet might work again for 5-10 minutes)
  • they will tell you to restart your computer/mobile phone and try it again
  • they will tell you to re-install your modem drivers in your computer
  • they will admit (!) of having a network problem currently, you should try it again in 1 hour
  • they will tell you to re-install Windows on your computer

Especially the last point made me laugh insanely. Upon my question, why I should re-install Windows, they said “I don’t know, but it says it in my list here!”.

Great customer service! For them the problem is mainly with the people who pay their salaries.


Too bad that Telkomsel’s Flash isn’t up to the task as well. When trying it 2 months ago it had also serious troubles and flaws. Just read mine and the following comments of readers to get a feeling of their service.

So I’m ready to throw in the towel and change my ISP once again. Will check the usual suspects of ISP’s, if they still require up to Rp. 2 Mio installation fees.

If anyone can direct me to a quick and reliable Internet Service Provider in Bali, that would be great. It should have low to no installation fees and reliable download/surfing speeds of minimum 25-50 kbps all day around for not more than Rp 500.000 a month.

Did anyone try out Indosat’s 3.5G in Bali?

Arglglglglglgl – just had to let out this rant as I’m really p*ssed right now.



Update 18/08/2008: In the mornings XL’s 3G Internet is again working a bit better. Comes late afternoon and in the evenings after 6pm though, everything is still out of order. Apart from the problems mentioned above, a new error message appeared for me yesterday for the first time. “Access denied – The access to this service is denied, please contact a Customer Service representative.”Prepaid XL Bebas error message - access denied - internet not working

What’s going on here? Are they installing any Web Censoring Software? When it’s even impossible to reach Google or other portals, then something is seriously wrong!

And the problem is definitely not on my side here, as XL’s Customer Service wants to make me believe, as not only XL’s 3G is affected (postpaid Xplor contract), but GPRS via their prepaid ‘Bebas’ SIM cards as well. See the screenshot to the right from my Windows Mobile phone.

Different gadget, different SIM, different contract – but same error message in the evenings.

So it IS a general XL Internet problem! Either they signed up to many members for their commissioned bandwidth or their internet access is generally breaking down.

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written by Chris

29 Responses to “Update: XL’s 3G Internet Problems – it’s seriously broken in Indonesia”

  1. BrettNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    You mean you even get an XL signal? Down here in South Jakarta whole hours of the day pass where there is NO network availability with XL. All these “cheap as chips” telcos are screwing it all up, crowding and oversubscribing.

    If its any consolation, I don’t think I have EVER had seen the little 3G symbol on my phone down here – and that’s with an Indosat corporate account.

  2. BrettNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    On IM2: I will check next time I am down there. I was up in Padang last week and it was slow, but it worked. Surely Bali would have better 3.5G coverage than Sumatra?

  3. ma2n-smileNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    let me try it…..

  4. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Brett – seriously, it worked without any problems for the last 12 months here. And even now I get 4 bars, great 3G signal and can login perfectly, although no HSDPA.

    Just the data is coming through byte by byte, or none at all.

    Yeah, it’s a shame, that for the amount of money I can buy a dedicated broadband line elsewhere, I can’t even get decent internet connectivity here. And I though that 3G might be the solution for that…….but probably not. :((

  5. dee yanNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Complain about XL 3G,check this out ( in bahasa )

  6. EnjeNo Gravatar REPUBLIC OF KOREA Says:

    Hi, I’m in kerobokan and same symptom with XL 3G.

    You can try new apn (I just got sms from xl).
    APN :
    User : xlspeed
    Passwd: xlspeed

    I using all three(xl,telkomsel,im2) providers, but I think most stable one is telkomsel(but I can connect on EDGE network only here).

  7. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Yeah Enje, these settings I got via SMS as well, but upon creating a profile I can’t connect with them. It simply says ‘invalid internet settings’ for me. Glad it works for you!

  8. EnjeNo Gravatar REPUBLIC OF KOREA Says:

    Did anyone try out Indosat’s 3.5G in Bali?

    Yeah, I’m also have im2(indosat) and it’s very stable & fast when you’re inside their coverage area (like Kuta), but big problem for me my house at kerobokan (outside coverage area / I can get only GPRS and it’s very slow). :-(
    So, check your area first.

  9. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    I just bought a Indosat/IM3 starter pack and some top-up for Rp.40.000 and tried it myself at my location Seminyak/Kerobokan (near Jl. Marlboro/jail). It’s very shaky here, sometimes 1 bar, mainly 2 with 3G symbol, sometimes 2 bar with HSDPA symbol. With HSDPA it’s blazing fast, although it never runs through the test, sometimes with 3G 1-2 bar it just times out with ‘Page Load Errors’. So yeah, with 1-2 bars it’s not very reliable in my area. Too bad! :-?

    When I look at this coverage map, it should be fully covered. But that’s probably the difference between reality and marketing. ;-)

  10. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    …oops, I just recognized that the current coverage I get where I live must be really a wonder, as I live at least 2 km from the next covered area, when I follow the map in your link, Enje. I guess Indosat has a problem with maps in general. :D

  11. stuartNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Re Indosat’s 3.5G service — I’m based in Sanue and have commented on this blog before re it being very good. Not anymore. Virtually unusable. I’m guessing there’s a lot more subscribers than there once was and they’ve not upped capacity. Connection is consistently dropping out, despite modem reading there’s 5bars of HSPDA signal. In fact I’ve had to reset it to make this post!

    Currently it’s close on unusable.

  12. mustardPizzNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    yeah. the free sms didn’t work.. damn.

  13. RuneNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    I have used Indosat’s 3.5G service for a year now and am pretty happy with this internet solution. But I live in Balikpapan, guess there’s not so many subscribers here yet. Download speed is usually around 500 kbit/s measured against computers in Europe.

  14. MarioNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Living here for the past 12 years and I tried all services available in Bali I started off in the old days with a centrin dial up, telkom instan… Global X-Treme, XL Gprs, Indosat Dial Up.. XL 3g, Telkom Flash, Indosat Im2 3G, HSDPA… In short it just all sucks really… I live in Kerobokan direction Gatsu and though new towers are build (I wonder for what) each and every company tries to rip me off. (I cant get Telkom Speedy in tis area by the way) I tried for several weeks Telkom Flash, and you know what? I have full HSDPA signal but no data is coming in or just 1 Kb per half hour or so… If I loose my connection and log in again they “eat’ 10 to 25 minutes just like that from my credit!!!! THEY STEAL YOUR MONEY!!! Try to call customer service… It took me up to 600 calls to get connected with an idiot who hang up on me… XL… I’m a VIP member there and the only thing they gave me for free was 6000 points on their point system (nobody knows why they gave me so many points and I bought a pair of jeans for it at Matahari woehaaaa) and a few stories as written in this blog before like restarting your PC, Installing a fresh windows, to un-instal IE (woehaaaa) not using Yahoo Messenger, to repair my mobile phone (which is my 3G modem), to buy a NEW MOBILE PHONE (ieeeeejeeee you read this well…!) to reset my sim card, or simply to move from location… right I put my desktop in the garden next to the new GSM Tower…

    As what Global X did in the past it seems to me that new customers are given the full band width for a week or so and after you spend your money they start to squeeze and bring you down from say 512Kbps to 10Kbps and shared with 25 other users in your area… maybe even more….! It really sucks here and there is not one giving a reliable service. I tried last week Indosat IM2 3.5G… what 3.5G ??? I not even get GPRS here and if I do I sit there staring at my screen to see Google Search coming up after 30 minutes or so… If it comes up as with the others (Telkom Flash) they like to black list domain names just like that LULUS SENSOR =)) I gave up it never ever will be something with the Internet in this country! I was in Singapore for a few days and awwww had to use a dial up connection 64Kbps it was 50 times faster as any HSDPA here in Bali… Blue Line is quite reliable I heard only the guy is xxxx to expensive with his antennas and service, here you see another problem… the owner is in need of an luxury villa ala US$ 1.5 million with pool within a few years… >:) I’m getting BLUE behind my ears… CHEERS!

  15. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Rune – lucky you in Balikpapan! No option currrenty though for us to move there. ;-)

    Mario – what an odyssey, I can feel your pain. Unfortunately that all doesn’t sound too promising for me. So maybe I have to try out another country before finding the perfect ISP for the money here. :-/

  16. jacksonNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:


    Just found your posts here while looking for answers on why my web images are pixelated and low-res. I am currently using XL’s new xlspeed APN. It happen since 1 month ago (or maybe less…).

    I wonder whether any of you have this pixelated web images when using xlspeed APN. I haven’t yet found any workarounds in google. Other XL’s APN i.e. xlgprs yield better web images ‘sometimes’….

  17. PhilippeNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Same problem with Indosat! I am located in Bali – Kerobokan / Gatsu. I am very close from the Indosat Tower, maybe 200 meter. I got a full bar HSPDA.
    The connection really sucks. Very slow and espacially loosing IP packets frequently. If i make a ping to google for exampel i can got an answer at 100 ms (very fast) OR “Request TIme Out”. This makes all the connection fucked up.
    And the Cust Service ALWAYS blame on me…

  18. BillNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    I would have to recommend Indosat IM2. When you are waiting for a signal, or if you have a signal and are trying to download. Call their toll free number, the stories you get and the remedies to fix the problem always bring a smile to my face. Perhaps they think your average PC user is not capable of tying their shoe laces let alone being able to plug in a USB modem ? =D>

  19. BriceNo Gravatar FRANCE Says:

    Hi all,

    I’ll be in Bali in May and June and am checking out the current 3G coverage and service quality story. I see a lot of back experiences cataloged here.

    It’s March 2009 now…How is Indosat doing? How is XL doing? How is Telkomsel doing?

    What would be your current recommendation for someone who needs to do 3-4 hours of pretty heavy email and skype (text chat) per day?

    Thanks in advance.

  20. PhilippeNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hi Brice,
    Just dont try Indosat 3G : it is NOT working at all. They are thief

  21. blackNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    wow, i use m2 too,, and that’s working good.. maybe the place you are not recomended the coverage.. :-B

  22. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    It all really depends on your location. The coverage of most providers in Bali is not very consistent. If you live near a mobile network tower, things are usually brighter than elsewhere. :-?

  23. BriceNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    I second what Chris says above — coverage and 3G data services vary widely depending on location.

    I have during the last 2 months (May and June 2009) tested both Telkomsel and XL. I found that Telkomsel actually seems to disallow things like HTTP traffic (I cannot use a browser, but I can use Google Maps on my phone, for example). This is ridiculous. I advise staying away from Telkomsel both for this reason and for the reason that activation is complex and you most likely will not succeed to activate 3G data unless you get in-person assistance at one of their main offices (I went to Denpasar).

    I had the most success with XL. I went to their office (on Jl Sunset, I believe) and they had me up and running in about 15 minutes, both via 3G phone and via 3G USB key in laptop. Their customer service is friendly and efficient and they all speak english. Additionally, their instructions manual is dual language — indo and english.

    With that said, their service is still not great, but in Sanur and around Seminyak and Kerobokan areas it’s be livable and they do not seem to block any specific protocols or apps. Unfortunately, the service has never been good enough to use Skype voice, even if downstream hits 600+ Kbps at times, upstream is generally quite poor and latency is very high.

    My final solution is to stay in houses and hotels that have broadband connections. Outside of this, heavy Internet users and remote workers are going to find nothing but daily frustrations.

  24. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Great update, thanks Brice!

  25. Pantelis KarrasNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Please tell me how is it possible that XL shows no interest for its clients. It is so very difficult to even send an sms. It takes if it is finally done up to 24 hours to be delivered in Europe. And lets not talk about the connection if somebody wishes to talk abroad. Total disrespect of the client. SHAME!

  26. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Pantelis, on top of that, XL is probably one of the more expensive carriers in Indonesia with the most spotty coverage, at least here in Bali. They advertise that you can get a signal almost everywhere, which is nothing but bullshit. I used them heavily between 2006-2008 here, but finally switched to Indosat IM3 earlier this year, which is much cheaper and offers better and cheaper data packages, important for smartphones. Your mileage in other regions in Indonesia might vary though. ;-)

  27. ScottNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hi all – how are you getting on with your providers in 2011??
    I’ve just moved here, living in Legian near the Banjar Legian Kaja and got myself an XL simcard with the rp99k/month 3G internet with my iPhone 3GS. Problem is, I am only on 3G about 2% of the time – the rest I have to make do with EDGE. It is virtually impossible for me to get 3G at home in Legian, although my iPad (also XL, same deal) gets 3G most of the time…

    Any thoughts??? What are your experiences with 3G in the Legian area? I am thinking a switch to Telkomsel may be needed!

  28. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Scott, it really depends on the area where you stay. Most providers are better with better pockets of coverage in other areas than the others. Still, I can only recommend to buy a starter package of all providers and to try them out in the area of your choice. XL, Simpati, IM2, IM3, Axis, and whom did I miss this time? ;)

  29. ScottNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Thanks Chris – I’ve managed to work out where the 3G spots are around my place – not on my desk of course!

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