Palapa Ring inaugurated: President expects communication network to unite Indonesia

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“The government is committed to completing the Palapa Ring as our sky toll infrastructure,” Jokowi says in his remarks during the Palapa Ring inauguration ceremony at the State Palace, Jakarta on Monday, October 14, 2019. (photo: KOMINFO)

IO, Jakarta – President Joko Widodo inaugurates the Palapa Ring project at the State Palace, Monday, October 14, 2019. “The government is committed to completing the Palapa Ring as our sky toll infrastructure,” Jokowi says in his remarks during the inauguration ceremony at the State Palace, Jakarta on Monday, October 14, 2019. 

According to Jokowi, the construction of the telecommunications network is expected to not only develop the economic sector but also advance the social, cultural, and political sectors throughout Indonesia. He explained that the communication continuity would unite Indonesia from Sabang to Merauke, as well as from Miangas to Rote Island. 

The Palapa Ring project was stalled for 10 years. It was started in July 2007, beginning with the signing of a consortium for the construction of optical fiber networks in Eastern Indonesia (KIT) by seven telecommunications operators. However, the consortium experienced problems until it finally abandoned the project. 

Palapa Ring is a national fiber-optic backbone development that will reach 34 provinces, 440 cities/regencies throughout Indonesia with a total length of submarine cables reaching 35,280 kilometers, and cables on land as far as 21,807 kilometers. 

The three backbone segments: the West Palapa Ring, the Middle Palapa Ring, and the East Palapa Ring. The project consists of seven small optical fiber circles in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara, Papua, Sulawesi, and Maluku. 

The West Palapa Ring was completed in March 2018, connecting Riau Province to Natuna Island, with a sea network of 1,730 kilometers and 545 kilometers of land network. 

The Middle Palapa Ring covers 27 districts/cities in North Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, North Maluku and East Kalimantan Provinces with 1,706 kilometers of sea network and 1,289 kilometers of land network. 

The East Palapa Ring was built along 4,450 kilometers with 3,850 kilometers submarine cable and “land cable” along 600 kilometers with “landing points” totaling fifteen points in 21 cities/districts. 

This infrastructure development is also intended to spur the penetration of operators in the most frontier, outer, and disadvantaged regions of Indonesia. Palapa Ring can significantly reduce the burden of investment in building network infrastructure from zero so that the internet network can reach sub-districts, then to people’s homes and public facilities such as schools and hospitals. 

The presence of various operators or internet network providers stimulated by the Palapa Ring can make prices more reasonable for the public. Not only that, but the services of each network provider can also magnify in competence due to competition. 

Meanwhile, based on the report of the Telecommunications and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI) the Ministry of Communication and Information Pala Prin will connect 57 outermost frontier and remote areas with broadband internet. “The overall Palapa Ring target is to connect 5.8 million people living in 57 districts/ cities, using 12,148 kilometers of Fiber Optic networks and a total of 55 hops microwave links,” explained BAKTI in its report. Internet services will be the main driver for economic growth in the primary, secondary, and service sectors. 

Minister of Communication and Information Rudiantara added that the merger of the West, Central, and East Palapa Ring Satellite will bring fast internal quality to the 514 biggest regencies/cities in various regions of Indonesia. “So, even in last August, none of the 514 regencies was connected,” said Rudiantara. 

Palapa Ring is a telecommunications infrastructure in the form of optical fiber construction throughout Indonesia along 36 thousand kilometers. 

Rudiantara explained that Indonesia’s information and communication technology infrastructure is still lagging behind neighboring countries such as Thailand and Malaysia. 

“Our government only spends 0.1% of GDP on ICT infrastructure. Thailand 0.3% of GDP, Malaysia 0.6% of GDP, when calculated per capita the Malaysian government spends 18-19 times greater,” said Rudiantara. 

“This is our challenge in the future to build ICT infrastructure for digital economic development, we have to be developing it for long-term consideration,” he said. 

The inauguration of the Palapa Ring was also welcomed optimistically by West Papua Deputy Governor Mohamad Lakotani; he believes it will provide many benefits for his province. Lakotani said that the East Palapa Ring can improve the quality of internet networks so that it can be maximally used to improve public services as well as social and business activities. 

“The community is also facilitated in communicating so that national life can be strengthened,” he said when met after the inauguration ceremony of the Palapa Ring in Sorong, West Papua, Monday (10/14/2019). 

He claimed he had a request that was not delivered during a video conference with President Jokowi at the State Palace. He wants the government to be able to make the internet in Raja Ampat faster. 

Lakotani said the East Palapa Ring only reached the cities and districts of Sorong, Manokwari, South Manokwari, Bintuni, Wondama, South Sorong, and Maybrat, while those who were not covered were Raja Ampat, Tambrauw, Fak-Fak, and Kaimana. 

“There are several tourist destinations that have BTS in Raja Ampat. We hope that they are strengthened,” he said. “Hopefully the development of the Palapa Ring reaches into areas that have tourism potential so that they can be developed into tourist destinations,” he said. 

The Palapa Ring project is carried out under a collaborative scheme between the government and business entities. The financing, which is implemented under the availability payment (AP) scheme, allows the government to start paying capital replacement funds after the project operates. (Dsy)