We have entered a new reality where people around the world have now been physical distancing in some form or working remotely for many months. I am based in Singapore and like many, I am hunkered down for extended stay-at-home life with my family.
While many people were able to shift their lives online, there are still more than 3.5 billion people who lack reliable internet access. Not only does this impact their ability to work or find new work, participate in school and connect with family and friends, but it limits their ability to get timely, accurate information from organizations such as the World Health Organization about how to stay safe and prevent the spread of coronavirus within their communities.
In Indonesia, access to the internet is not available to everyone yet, particularly those living in rural areas or remote islands. Where internet access is available, some people cannot afford it.
This digital divide has a very real impact on whether or not we are able to participate in the opportunities that the internet brings and the new normal that we are currently living in, not only in Indonesia, but across the world.
As we all adapt to this new normal, one thing is evident. Our success in navigating this situation will partly depend on making the internet more inclusive, which underlines the need for countries around the world to urgently expand internet infrastructure. This work has never been more important and we believe that overcoming the internet connectivity challenges of access, affordability and relevance requires a multi-faceted approach.
In Indonesia, Facebook is focused on bringing more people online to a faster internet by connecting the Indonesian archipelago through programs, partnerships and technologies designed to increase the availability, affordability and awareness of higher quality internet access. We are collaborating with our partners in several key ways to help the digital divide in Indonesia, including:
With the pandemic, how quickly people across the world can access digital tools is becoming increasingly important to help accelerate learning and economic growth, including in Indonesia.
As these efforts continue to progress, Facebook is ready to explore and support new connectivity solutions aimed at bridging the digital divide in Indonesia.
The writer is head of connectivity and access policy, Asia-Pacific, Facebook.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.