Catching up on the Network in Papua – Papua Island, including two provinces, Papua and West Papua, is developing itself. The implementation of the 2021 National Sports Week (PON) is just the opening momentum for Papua which is rushing to overcome backwardness.

Like veins and blood vessels, Papua needs two important aspects, infrastructure in the form of physical networks and technology that is at least 4G.

Papua is waiting for even distribution of telecommunication access, which in other regions has transformed to digital access, does not expect telecommunication facilities that are just for making calls or sending short messages.

Expecting cellular operators to participate in building networks, especially in remote areas, requires a special approach. From a business point of view, building a site and operating it is not very lucrative, the break-even point is long.

Construction costs are costly due to geographical constraints, often having to rent helicopters to carry materials because there are no trails or road infrastructure.

Unlike in other areas, where today one point is set to be built, tomorrow the BTS will be up, the day after tomorrow the surrounding community will have fun and send the internet.

The low population density makes access to telecommunications services also low, and on the other hand only those who have the Red-White spirit who want to participate in building, others will think twice or three times before moving forward.

There are not many urban villages in Papua, but each area is large with settlements separated by mountains, valleys, ravines, and marine forests.

The area of ​​Papua and West Papua, which is 420,540 square kilometers, is about three times the area of ​​the island of Java, according to the 2019 BPS, the number of sub-districts is 7,547 with a population of 5.4 million. The area of ​​one village in Papua can be up to 50 sq km and walking from end to end of the village can take all day.

Meanwhile, there are 25,266 villages [Kelurahan] on the island of Java and a population of 145 million in 2015 so that the distance among villages is only a stone’s throw away. Shouting in one Keluarahan, for example, can be heard in other Kelurahan.

That’s why one Kelurahan in Papua needs not only one BTS, it can be 2, 3 or 5 BTS. Apart from geographical problems that separate each village far apart, in one kelurahan there may be one puskesmas, police station, and even a sub-district office, all of which need BTS.

With disparate condition from other regions of the country, Bakti (Telecommunication and Information Accessibility Agency) Kominfo offers an option. They build infrastructure and live mobile operators, with a business approach.

Bakti’s priority is to build BTS with 4G-standard in Papua collaborating with cellular operators. According to Anang Latif, President Director of Bakti Kominfo, of the more than 7,900 4G BTSs built in the 3T (Tertinggal, Terluar, Terdepan) areas, 65 percent of them are priorities for Papua.

The 4G BTS project has been carried out for a long time and is increasingly intensive in 2021 and 2022. Previously, during 2015 to 2020, 437 BTS had been established, as many as 213 in the Papua Province and 224 BTS in West Papua. With the addition of about 5,200 more areas, the 4G BTS will meet the need for internet access for the Papuan people.

Bakti also held the Palapa Ring Project in the form of fiber optic (FO) cables by sea (SKKL – sea cable communication system) or by land. Sticking out the FO in the ocean like in Indonesian territory is easily constrained.

Author: Moch S Hendrowijono (A telecommunications observer and former editor of Kompas Daily)

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