The lives of millions Indonesians could be about to change forever. They’re about to get access to the Internet. However, the high price and slow data speeds might mean that many remain ‘offline’.
The radical change to the lives of people in eastern Indonesia is set to commence over the next week when the country’s first internet only satellite settles into orbit above Papua.
Launched by telecommunications company Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN) and carried into space onboard a Dragon spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA on February 22, the $230 million ‘Nusantara Satu‘ satellite is the 18th Indonesian satellite launched since 1976.
With a capacity of 15,000 megabits per second (Mbps) Nusantara Satu boasts the largest capacity of any of its five PSN predecessors, however data transfer rates are only promised at a modest 3Mbps, well below Indonesia’s average internet speed of 7.2 Mbps. The new service will also be slow, in addition to expensive, costing Rp100,000 (about US$7.08) per GB. In comparison, internet rates in Java cost around Rp30,000 ($2.11) for 30 gigabytes (GBs),
Acknowledging that the high cost meant the company could not compete in Java, PSN president director Adi Rahman Adiwoso told local media that there were nonetheless 25 million Indonesians, mostly in eastern Indonesia, who could not access the internet.
According to PSN commerce director Agus Budi Tjahjono, the company expects to generate sales of $55 million annually from Nusantara Satu’s operations. Two additional satellites, Nusantara Dua and Nusantara Tiga, are already under construction.
Indonesia’s appalling internet infrastructure is legendary, with growing concern at the country’s digital gap. While the Ministry of Communications and Information is building its own satellite, Satria 1, it is not scheduled to go into orbit until 2022 and will focus on providing internet to public facilities, such as schools, clinics, and regional authorities.
According to the “Digital 2019” report by social media management platform Hootsuite, Indonesia had only some 150 million internet users, in 2018 despite its population of 268.2 million; an internet penetration of just 53.57 per cent.
Pickup appears robust though, with the same report finding that between January 2018 and January 2019 internet usage in Indonesia grew 13 per cent, or by some 17 million new connections.
The February 22 launch was the second mission this year and sixty-eighth flight of the Falcon 9 rocket, which commenced operation in 2010.
Operated by privately owned SpaceX, the launch was the company’s 70th successful mission and its 20th reflight. The Falcon 9 can lift payloads of up to 22,800 kilograms to low Earth orbit, 8,300kg to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), or 5,500kg to GTO when the first stage is recovered. PSNs Nusantara Satu weighs 4,100 kilogram.
Feature video SpaceX
- Indonesia launches first internet-only satellite with SpaceX rocket (The Jakarta Post)
- SpaceX launches satellites, moon mission on Falcon 9 (Space News)
- Photos: Falcon 9 flight marks Cape Canaveral’s first launch of 2019 (Spaceflight Now)
Between November 2010 and February 2012 she was a staff writer at Daylight Online, Nigeria writing on health, fashion, and relationships. From 2010 – 2017 she worked as a freelance screen writer for ‘Nollywood’, Nigeria.
She joined AEC News Today in December 2016.