JAKARTA, Sept 10 — Undeterred by its current Internet penetration rate of only 34.9 per cent, Indonesia has laid down the gauntlet and said it intends to overtake its Asean neighbour Malaysia by 2019.
The republic’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology Rudiantara acknowledged that Indonesia lags behind other Asean (Association of South-East Asian Nations) countries in terms of Internet penetration, but believes it can climb up to the region’s No 2 spot by 2019, behind Singapore.
“It is quite aggressive, yes — we’re going to be above Malaysia, but still cannot beat Singapore because we’re facing the challenge of connecting thousands of islands across our archipelago,” he said.
According to industry regulator the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the Internet penetration rate in Malaysia stood at 66.6 per cent as of the first quarter of 2014.
Indonesia itself estimates the Internet penetration rate in Malaysia is 70.4 per cent currently, and Thailand is slightly ahead of the republic at 43.8 per cent, while Singapore is just about completely wired at 99 per cent.
Speaking at the APNIC 40 (Asia Pacific Network Information Centre) conference in Jakarta on Sept 8, Rudiantara said his government was working hard to develop the Internet infrastructure in the country.
He also invited the Internet community and industry players to assist the Indonesian Government in its policy-making.
“We want all of you to participate in our policy-making process in Indonesia — we are open to discussions and any advice,” Rudiantara said in his speech at the opening ceremony of APNIC 40.
“The Internet [space] in this country is very dynamic — the Government will not pretend that we understand the technical details,” he said. “For me, the best regulation is actually less regulation.”
APNIC is the regional Internet registry for Asia Pacific, providing number resource allocation and registration services. Its members include Internet service providers and national internet registries.
The APNIC 40 conference itself is bringing together Internet and networking experts from around the region over eight days for policy development, decision-making, education, information sharing, and networking.
Last year’s edition was held in Brisbane, while this year’s conference is being backed by the Association of Indonesian Internet Providers (APJII).
Rapid growth, sophisticated use
Indonesia’s aspirations to overtake Malaysia may not be so farfetched after all. With a rapid growth in Internet access over the last few years, the republic is now home to 88.1 million Internet users.
This is a relatively small proportion of its total population of approximately 250 million people, however, which is why APJII chairman Jamalul Izza underlined the urgent need for more robust Internet infrastructure.
“Based on our survey last year, the number of Internet users in Indonesia has grown tremendously from 16 million users [nine years ago] to 88.1 million in 2014.
“We expect the number to grow at the same rapid rate in the future, and that will not happen without the support of Internet infrastructure in the country,” he said in his speech at APNIC 40.
But it is not only the number of Internet users that is moving up rapidly — Internet use among the populace has also become more sophisticated, according to Jamalul.
“The Internet used to be only for checking emails... then we started to browse for any kind of information.
“Nowadays, people are using Internet to shop online, to video-conference, even to order motorbike taxi or ojek,” he said.
The Indonesian Government’s ambition may still come back to haunt it, but Rudiantara is optimistic of reaching the target with the implementation of its National Broadband Plan, which aims for fixed-broadband access at 71 per cent of urban households and 10 per cent of rural households.
“In accordance with our National Broadband Plan, we are now in process of making sure that approximately 500 major cities and regional capitals are connected to the Internet by 2018.
“This plan is supported by our Palapa Ring Project which is deploying 36,000km of fibre-optic connectivity throughout the country, except for Papua island, where we are still using satellites,” he said.
The Palapa Ring Project (click image below to enlarge) is a mega project Indonesian President Joko Widodo has instructed Rudiantara to kick off to support connectivity in the country.
It is expected to be the backbone of the five-year goal of the National Broadband Plan, and is also expected to boost the country’s telecommunication industry. — Digital News Asia
This article was first published here.