Palapa Ring is a telecommunications infrastructure project in the form of the construction of optical fiber throughout Indonesia along 36,000 kilometers. The project consists of seven small optical fiber circles (for Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara, Papua, Sulawesi and Maluku) and one backhaul to connect them all.

The Government of Indonesia is carrying out this project with the aim of building a more efficient network and covering the entire territory of Indonesia to remote areas. Creating accelerated growth and equitable socio-economic development through the availability of integrated large-capacity telecommunications network infrastructure can provide high-quality, safe, and inexpensive quality internet and communication guarantees.

The capacity offered by this project is 100 GB (160 GB Upgradeable). Because the use of fiber optic cable can accommodate a higher capacity. The amount of bandwidth (bit rate / second) of a network that a fiber cable can carry easily exceeds copper cables of the same thickness. Fiber cables are rated at 10 Gbps, 40 Gbps, and even 100 Gbps.

Initially, the government had actually initiated the construction of the Palapa Ring telecommunications infrastructure in 2005. At that time, what the Palapa Ring business model was still looking for would be, would it be enough to just work with the operators and form a consortium without government intervention.

However, in 2009 this discourse failed and the consortium was dissolved. There were no significant developments related to the Palapa Ring for years afterwards. Only when Rudiantara was appointed as Minister of Communication and Information Technology, the project finally began to be worked on and running in 2015.

Palapa Ring is included in one of the national strategic projects stipulated in Presidential Regulation No. 3 of 2016 concerning the Acceleration of Implementing National Strategic Projects. The Telecommunications and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI) from the Ministry of Communication and Information became the party working on this project.

The name Palapa Ring itself is taken from two terms, namely Palapa and Ring. Palapa here refers to the Palapa Oath of Gajah Mada who wants to unite the Nusantara, while the Ring means that this network will technically be shaped like a ring that is connected to each other.

According to the Director of BAKTI, Anang Latif, the business model used for the Palapa Ring is called PPP (Government and Business Entity Cooperation). Anang revealed, Palapa Ring became the first project to use the PPP scheme in 2015.

rudiantara at palapa ring
Rudiantara when describing about ‘Sky Toll’ Project.

Then, there is a unique term intended for this Palapa Ring. Minister of Communication and Information (Kominfo) Rudiantara refers to it as a ‘sky toll’ which is a parable of the signal depicted in the sky and the Palapa Ring becomes uninterrupted internet signal traffic in Indonesia.

“At that time there were 514 counties (and cities) in 2015, apparently only 400 (counties) were reached by fiber optic networks. So basically the sky toll road is physically an optical fiber network. For sky tolls, the parable is used because of signals that seem to in the sky, “Anang explained, in the #TokTokKominfo discussion entitled ‘Kepoin Tol Tol’ on Tuesday (19/3).

Out of 114 cities / regencies that have not yet been reached, Kominfo also cooperates with telecommunications operators in Indonesia to ‘divide up the tasks’. Both work together to provide internet in all areas that are not yet reached. However, the task of Kominfo to reach more than 12 thousand kilometers with the internet network is felt difficult if alone. Therefore, Kominfo finally broke it into three packages, each of which was worked on by different business partners.

West, Central, and East Palapa Ring

data communication in indonesia

West Palapa Ring will reach areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan with a fiber optic cable network of 1.98 0 km. Central Palapa Ring will reach Kalimantan, Sulawesi and North Maluku (up to the Sangihe-Talaud Islands) with a total fiber optic cable length of around 2,647 km. Meanwhile, East Palapa Ring reaches the regions of East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, West Papua and Papua (to the interior of Papua) with a total length of fiber optic cable of around 8,454 km.

Difficult Development of the East Palapa Ring

Rudiantara acknowledged the difficulty of developing the East Palapa Ring. He explained that it took hard work to work on this fiber optic network project in eastern Indonesia. The limited equipment and heavy terrain are the main factors hampered by this project.

“There is indeed a delay in the East Palapa Ring mainly because there are 52 locations using towers, out of 52 locations there are no 28 footpaths. So all must use a helicopter. Imagine to build a tower, you have to stir cement with water, the water is taken by gallons using a helicopter. Yes indeed building Indonesia, if we build Indonesia centric it is not easy, “he explained.

Palapa Ring itself is included in one of the national strategic projects stipulated in Presidential Regulation No. 3 of 2016 concerning the Acceleration of Implementing National Strategic Projects. The Information and Accessibility Agency (BAKTI) of the Ministry of Communication and Information became the party working on this project.

Commercialization Stage

The project, dubbed the ‘Sky Toll’, has completed the final stage of the Palapa Ring project, the Eastern part. This good news was delivered directly by Rudiantara who explained that the construction of the East Palapa Ring which had been constrained could finally be completed.

“I also report, we know that the Palapa Ring connects with the network of operators, connecting all districts, cities, throughout Indonesia. There is an operation in the West, in the middle the operation is in the East, the construction in East has been completed, “he said during the National Movement 1000 Startup Digital Ignite The Nation Movement in Jakarta, Sunday (18/8).

Rudiantara continued, it took around 28 days for the stabilization process between the West and East Palapa Ring. After the process is complete, the “Sky Toll” network can be commercialized and used by all Indonesian people at least starting in mid-September.

“Just waiting for the integration of West Palapa Ring with East and stabilization because in the contract there are 28 days to carry out stabilization. So September the longest 3rd week is already commercial, “he said.

What Is The Next Impact?

Head of the Infrastructure Division of the Telecommunications and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI) Ministry of Communication and Information, Muhammad Feriandi Mirza revealed that the Palapa Ring is one of the ‘Sky Toll Infrastructure’ which will later be equipped with Multifunctional Satellite Projects built by the government to catch up with internet speed lags and implementing equitable infrastructure.

“If everything has been integrated, it will create a one-price cost in Indonesia and there will no longer be areas where fast internet networks are not yet available in the future,” Feriandi added.

Internet connection in indonesia

Feriandi also revealed, after the completion of all construction work of the Palapa Ring Project, the next work was in the operation, maintenance and utilization of the Palapa Ring network.

Based on Feriandi’s information, the Implementing Business Entity (BUP), in addition to the obligation to build, they are also required to operate and maintain the entire Palapa Ring network facilities for 15 years. Meanwhile, related to utilization, the following are data on Palapa Ring network utilization by telecommunications providers who have contracted.

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