As a part of national infrastructure development programs, the Indonesian government has prioritized the connectivity in many remote and isolated islands. It particularly relates to the empowering of communication networks and Information Technology development.
The increasing infrastructure development efforts have targeted the reduction of economic and social, as well as regional disparities across the country. It includes the objective of improving the quality of life through more connectivity in the easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua.
Along with the infrastructure megaprojects, the government also has carried out other medium-sized programs. One of them is communication and information technology development. For this purpose, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has collaborated with other relevant ministries and regional governments.
In Papua and West Papua, more communication networks and Information Technology development will reach out to less developed regions and people. More particularly, they will help support remote health service and digital-based education.
Universal Service Obligation (USO) Program
Run by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Universal Service Obligation (USO) is a program executed by the Telecommunications and Informatics Financing and Management Center (BP3TI). This program involves business people to improve telecommunication infrastructure in Indonesia.
Its key objectives are to address information technology gaps, support economic activities, strengthen defense and security, and educate the nation through communication and Information Technology development. The target is a universal service area comprising remote areas, border areas, pioneering areas, and areas that have not gained access or telecommunication networks.
The USO Program in West Papua Province
There are to programs implemented in West Papua Province. The first is the internet access provision that involves the Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Manpower, and the Ministry of Tourism. Several locations have gained total internet access, such as schools, Tourist Information Center, and the Work Training Center.
Whereas, the second Information Technology development is the provision of Base Transceiver Station (BTS). In 2016, the government built the first cellular tower of BTS in Manokwari. It is followed by several developments of BTS Blankspot points scattered in different regencies in this province.
The USO Program in Papua Province
In 2010, some programs like Desa Berdering and Desa Pintar (Desa Punya Internet) entered Papua land. The development of BTS in Jayapura and other blank spot points has risen the expectation for more services that reach out to remote areas, even to small villages.
Palapa Ring Project – East Package
Palapa Ring Project of Telecommunication Network is one of the ambitious infrastructure development agendas to boost communication and information technology throughout Indonesia.
Overall, this project is a massive backbone fiber-optic network to connect many under-developed areas. The total length for this Information Technology development and telecommunication infrastructure network is approximately 13,000 kilometers.
Announced in 2016, Palapa Ring Projects has integrated the existing networks with the new ones, particularly in the eastern parts of Indonesia (Palapa Ring-East). The East Package has stretched to 42 districts and cities in East Nusa Tenggara, several islands in Maluku, and Papua land.
These fiber optic cable networks are in the form of land cable and submarine cable, which approximately 6,878 km heading to the easternmost regions. With the cost estimation of IDR 7.63 trillion (or about USD 540 million), this project includes the provision of Microwave transmitters and also towers. The ultimate goal is to provide fast internet services, especially to the under-connected areas.
The network has reached out to Papua and West Papua provinces and also several new districts within. For example, in West Papua province, the government has built new networks in seven districts and linked them with two existing ones.
Completed in August 2019, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo finally launched the final eastern “superhighway” Palapa Ring Project two months afterward. The network delivers a 100 GB capacity, upgradeable to 160 GB, that connects numerous regencies, municipalities, or even districts with 4G-based Broadband Internet.
As a part of public-private partnerships, the Palapa Ring Project has become the foundation for all telecommunication operators and users, as well as Information Technology development in Indonesia.
Palapa Ring Project Follow-Ups
After the completion and launch of the Palapa Ring Project across Indonesian regions, the government still has some homework left. Per 2020, the Ministry of Communications and Informatics (Kominfo) has planned for constructing 4000 BTS.
The government will prioritize 50 percent of those total BTS numbers to the regions in Papua and West Papua provinces. So far, the utmost priority for BTS development is for border and 3T (foremost, outermost, and left) areas.
The main objective of the follow-up infrastructure development is to deliver a real high-speed 4G connection that reaches out to public services, schools, health facilities, and more. In other words, it is to guarantee an affordable, high-quality, and secured communication and internet connection.
The target of the further communication networks and Information Technology development is not only the improvement or even acceleration of social-economy growth but also human development index and thus the quality of life in Papua and West Papua.