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Jakarta Post

Awaiting broadband revolution in the "hippo country"

  • Arif Gunawan S.

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, December 31, 2015   /  06:52 pm
Awaiting broadband revolution in the ASEAN DNA, which compiles data from speedtest.net, describes average internet speed in Indonesia in 2014 as a 'walking hippopotamus'. Indonesia is currently preparing a broadband infrastructure project called Palapa Ring in a bid to provide high-speed internet service to Indonesians across the archipelago. (Courtesy of Asean DNA)

ASEAN DNA, which compiles data from speedtest.net, describes average internet speed in Indonesia in 2014 as a 'walking hippopotamus'. Indonesia is currently preparing a broadband infrastructure project called Palapa Ring in a bid to provide high-speed internet service to Indonesians across the archipelago. (Courtesy of Asean DNA)

What are the main grids to which houses will be connected in the future? PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom) consumer service director Dian Rachmawan has his own version of prophecy: water, electricity and.. broadband!

His answer is in accordance with IBM's latest survey report entitled "Telco 2015: Five telling years, four future scenarios", which lists the importance of broadband in today's society.

When asked what they would be least likely to give up on if the economy were to worsen, respondents listed, after their homes, that they would be most unwilling to let go of mobile phones and broadband internet access. The items ranked ahead of family vacations, PayTV, going out and newspapers and magazines.

However, broadband in Indonesia is still far from meeting Dian'€™s prophecy. It is imperative to expand broadband. From 57 million households in Indonesia, only 3 million, or 5 percent of them, enjoy broadband internet.

It is no wonder, then, that the average internet speed in Indonesia is below that of Sri Lanka, Vietnam and even Iraq. ASEAN DNA, compiling data from Oklaa, the provider of speedtest.net, describes Indonesia'€™s internet speed as a walking hippopotamus.

Oklaa, as of May 2015, reported that average internet download speed in Indonesia was at 6.73 Mbps, ranked 139th in the world, below Sri Lanka, whose download speed is 6.75 Mbps and even worse than war-torn Iraq, which recorded a 6.78 Mbps download speed.

Akamai, in its latest third quarter report, said that Indonesia ranked at 104th among Asian-Pacific countries in terms of average internet speed. Indonesia'€™s internet speed scored 3 Mbps, far slower than Thailand (8.2 Mbps), Sri Lanka (5.1 Mbps) and Malaysia (4.9 Mbps).

(IBM survey)(IBM survey)

'€œInternet speed is closely related to the quantity of users. The larger the number of users, the slower the internet will be,'€ Indonesia Information and Communications Technology Institute expert Heru Sutadi told the thejakartapost.com on Monday.

Slow internet speed in Indonesia, he further explained, was more likely due to the increasing number of internet users amid the slow development of infrastructure.

He urged the government to accelerate the implementation of the "digital revolution", previously campaigned on by President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo, by swiftly appointing the winner in the tender for the Palapa Ring project.

Palapa Ring is a broadband infrastructure project that aims to lay out a total of 8,395 kilometers of undersea fiber optic cables, and in so doing provide the backbone for internet connection across the archipelago'€™s 33 provinces and 460 cities and districts. It is targeted for completion by 2019.

'€œThe national program to provide internet in 77,000 villages is just the blueprint but there is a lack of progress in the planning and implementation. We need more political will from Jokowi,'€ Heru said.

Fiber to the home

At the same time, he continued, the government must start a national-wide campaign called Fiber to the Home (FTTH). By conducting this campaign, broadband end-users will be ready to connect into the grid when the Palapa Ring project is finished three years from now.

Dian said that the challenge of providing fiber optic to houses lay in home wiring. Most Indonesian houses have yet to provide a special line for fiber optic cables, leading to higher costs in the first installment as they must drill out part of the house and then clean up the mess.

However, as high-speed internet demand keeps increasing amid revolutionary digital progress in internet TV, video-streaming services and digital music, Telkom is optimistic that it can boost fiber optic internet service to houses.

(Akamai research)(Akamai research)

'€œThere are 57 million houses connected to the PLN grid. We estimate 10 million of them need high-speed internet service. After successfully grabbing 1 million clients from IndiHome in 2015, we'€™re eyeing an additional 3 million clients next year,'€ Dian said.

IndiHome is an upgraded version of the coaxial cable-based internet service, Speedy. The new fiber optic based service allows Telkom to create triple-play bundling products, namely landline phone service, high speed internet access and online TV and video-streaming services.

In a bid to boost efficiency to customers, he continued, Telkom had cooperated with Indonesia'€™s electricity contractor associations to wire lines into all houses currently being built.

In 2015, it encouraged 500,000 Speedy users to convert their lines to IndiHome while at the same time nabbed 500,000 new clients.

'€œWe want to indiHomize Indonesia to upgrade the human resource quality in the country, close the digital gap and create an internet-aware country,'€ Dian said.

Telkom is currently competing with three other providers of high-speed internet services for home-users. Firstmedia provides of 100 Mbps-speed internet to households, but it is limited to Greater Jakarta. Biznet provides an up to 100 Gbps-speed internet to families, and MNC Play cooperates with ZTE to offer 200 Mbps-speed internet lines.

Heru said that 3 million users of high-speed internet in Indonesia was a low number, and one that was too low to improve average internet speed in the country.

'€œWe need a broadband revolution to deliver high-speed internet for all Indonesians from the western to the eastern regions. There is no turning back as access to technology is the key to improving the quality of human resources,'€ he said. (kes)

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