Psychoanthropological Telecommunications, a New Approach to Overcome Barriers to BTS Development in Papua – One of the wisest people in Indonesia who passed away some time ago, Buya Syafiie Maarif, once said about Papua, which still sparks conflict. Papua and Jakarta, he said, all must be wise.

“It must be understood that Papua entered Indonesia later, not in 1945, and is not the same as Aceh. There must be a socio-economic approach, as well as psychoanthropology. Papua must be saved,” he said.

And until the 20th century has passed, people are still asking how far our attention is to our brothers and sisters living in Papua and West Papua.

Why does it feel, let alone a psychoanthropological approach, that development in an area whose size three times of Java Island feels very slow and “less biting”.

When the government is aggressively pursuing digital transformation, not many citizens of the two provinces are able to receive telecommunications network services.

This is different from other areas that are already highly dependent on telecommunications technology services, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when the government restricts human movement.

Meanwhile, there is no tradition of Papuan people communicating like the Indian tribes in America, for example, who use smoke, because the geographical conditions of the two are different.

While Indian tribes live in the prairie, which is generally flat, our brothers and sisters in Papua live between dense forests, mountains, ravines, valleys, which have no road infrastructure, even trails.

The area of ​​Papua and West Papua is 420,540 km2, three times the size of the island of Java which is 128,297 km2, inhabited by 5.4 million people in 7,547 villages, with a population density of 11 people per km2.

There are 145 million people in 25,266 villages/kelurahan in Java, the density is 1,171 people per km2.

One village/kelurahan in Java is 4 km2 which is already said to be wide, in Papua the area of ​​a village can be 50 km2.

Walking from end to end takes a full day due to natural constraints and the lack of road infrastructure.

Papua’s geographical conditions make it difficult for telecommunications operators to build BTS (base transceiver stations), radio signal transmitters used for communication.

The service radius of one BTS is about 5 km2, so for one village in Bali, 1 or 2 BTS is enough for 4,500 residents.

However, for a village in Papua the population is only 550 people, but they are scattered in separate villages and not enough one BTS. So it takes two, three or five BTS.

When a BTS is built in front of a village office, school or health center, the signal will not spread evenly to all residents’ houses.

Even though they live close, only 1,000 meters away, dense forests, ravines, valleys and hills become obstacles.

Papua and West Papua are included in the so-called 3Ts (Terdepan, Terluar dan Terbelakang) areas along with several areas in Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara.

The government through the Communication and Information Accessibility Agency (Bakti) of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics is trying to build telecommunications facilities in Papua.

There is a USO (universal service obligation) development fund from a deposit of 1.25% of the operator’s gross income, which collects Rp 2.6 trillion – Rp 3 trillion a year.

This is still far from being needed, so in 2021 it will be added from the APBN and other sources, to Rp. 17 trillion and in 2022, it is proposed to be Rp. 24 trillion, but only Rp. 14 trillion has been approved, due to the pandemic.

In Papua, Bakti contractors have to traverse virgin forests, go up and down hills while carrying BTS tower materials and building materials that must be carried or used by buffalo.

Not infrequently even forced to rent a helicopter. The cost for 1 BTS can be more than IDR 2 billion. Meanwhile in Tarutung, North Sumatra, it is only around IDR 200 million – IDR 250 million per BTS.

“It’s like salting river water just by sprinkling a spoonful of salt,” said a person who witnessed the work of a BTS builder in a village in Puncak Jaya.

The high cost of one BTS per village is still not felt, school pupils still find it difficult to download lesson materials from their homes behind the hill.

Natural constraints made the construction of BTS in Papua sluggish, from 2015 to 2020 only 437 BTS were built. A total of 224 BTS are in West Papua and the remaining 213 are in Papua Province.

However, in 2021, 4,200 BTS have been built and by the end of 2022 the number will be 5,204 BTS.

In addition to BTS, Bakti also builds microwave facilities to reach remote areas, but still cannot be separated from geographical constraints. Because the microwave towers must be straight and “visible”, line in sight.

Another telecommunication facility, fiber optics, has also been held for more than 12,500 kilometers in the form of the East, Central and West Palapa Rings, including events on land to reach consumers. The telecommunications service that is not constrained by geography is satellite. Bakti uses it for thousands of points with VSAT technology, a very small aperture terminal, whose capacity is only 2 megabits per second (mbps).

Currently Bakti is preparing to launch a multi-function HTS (high throughput satellite) satellite by the end of 2023, Satria 1, with a capacity of 150,000 Gibabits, costing Rp. 7.1 trillion, to reach 150,000 points on Earth. With an estimated Satria service operating 15 hours/day, per user per month will only be allocated 1.14 Gbps. If Satria 2A and 2B with a capacity of 300 GB are launched in 2024, the user share will increase to 2.29 Gbps.

If they add the next satellite, Satria 3 with a capacity of 500 GB, their quota will only be 3.82Gbps. The capacity is large, but don’t compare it to the residents of Depok, who in just a month can devour 5GB.

The bigger problem is not in satellite capacity, but in security. Many telecommunications facilities operated by Bakti in the form of towers, BTS, repeaters, solar cells and physical buildings were cut down and destroyed by KKB (armed criminal groups). The disturbances never stopped, so Galumbang Menak, a President Director of PT Moratelindo who helped build BTS, fiber optics and microwaves in Papua, felt very disturbed.

“Twenty years I have not prayed. But when building in Papua, I never stopped praying,” he said.

Socio-economic technical problems like this, which have been worked hard, are still facing many obstacles. Maybe Buya Syafii’s opinion needs to be heard, the problem of psychoanthropological approaches needs to be juxtaposed. What is the psychoanthropological approach? It can be briefly described when last Wednesday (15/6), the Governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, was furious. Lukas got annoyed that the government from the DPR insisted on agreeing to split Papua into 3 new autonomous regions (DOB). Instead of seven new autonomous regions as Luke has proposed since 2014 according to Papua’s traditional territory.

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