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Jakarta Post

US tech giants work on IT projects for more access

  • Khoirul Amin

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, August 5, 2015   /  03:32 pm

Armed with cutting-edge technology innovation capability, some US-based tech companies are developing projects in several cities across Indonesia to help spur the country'€™s economic growth.

Facebook, Google and Microsoft are doing various projects ranging from information dissemination to the empowerment of small to medium businesses in the country, highlighting the US commitment to enhance the country'€™s information, communications and technology (ICT) development.

Facebook, which saw its global revenues rise by 40.3 percent year-on-year (Yoy) to US$7.59 billion in the first half of this year, has been partnering with local telecommunications operator PT Indosat to help more Indonesian people connect to the Internet as part of its global project Internet.org.

'€œWe'€™re also opening partnerships for Internet.org with any operators who want to work with us,'€ said Facebook'€™s head of public policy for Southeast Asia, Alvin Sheng Hui Tan, in a recent discussion held by the @america cultural center.

Internet.org is Facebook'€™s global project to connect 4 billion people who do not have access to the Internet through a free open platform.

While refusing to reveal details of the number of Internet.org users in Indonesia so far, Tan said that the program was mainly aimed at addressing some issues, including infrastructure, affordability and relevance in providing Internet access to the people.

Facebook currently has around 73 million active users of Facebook in Indonesia, according to the firm'€™s internal data.

Google, meanwhile, has been helping Indonesia'€™s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) enhance their IT competence through a program dubbed Gapura.

The program has so far netted some 4,500 SMEs from cities like Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar and Makassar.

'€œWe hope we can continue conducting the program [years ahead],'€ said Shinto Nugroho, Google Indonesia'€™s head of public policy and government relations.

In another development, software giant Microsoft is planning to provide the country'€™s most rural areas access to free-to-air television through its TV white space project.

The project, which was previously launched in rural African areas, is set to use the country'€™s idle frequency bands.

Ilham Habibie, the president director of Indonesia'€™s ICT Council (DeTikNas), said that access to Internet and technology had now become a key to accelerate the economic growth of a country and that it would require a multi-stakeholder partnership to boost the country'€™s ICT development.

'€œAn addition of 10 percent in broadband penetration will create 1.38 percent economic growth in developing countries and 1.12 percent in developed countries,'€ he said, quoting a World Bank report.

Indonesia itself launched a $24 billion national broadband project in October last year to provide broadband access across the regions of the country in the next four to five years.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Daniel A. Sepulveda, who heads the department'€™s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, said that both the American government and companies would keep partnering with Indonesia to develop its ICT.

'€œWe'€™re determined to work with you here in Indonesia, as well as with stakeholders from all over the world to expand broadband infrastructure in creating an economic environment that enables affordable Internet connection,'€ he said.

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