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Indonesia launches first internet-only satellite

A crowd of over 300 people gathered in South Jakarta on Friday, 22 February 2019, to watch the live broadcast of the launch of Indonesia’s highest capacity satellite to date.

According to a recent report, the Nusantara Satu satellite was on board the SpaceX Falcon 9 space rocket that launched over 17,400 kilometres away, at the Cape Canaveral in Florida, United States.

Background

The Nusantara Satu satellite promised to help bridge Indonesia’s digital gap and will therefore boost economic activity in the regions outside of Java.

Hundreds of people worked on the satellite for four years, which cost US$ 230 million, according to the Finance Director of the telecommunications company that developed it.

Two other payloads were carried by the Space X Falcon 9, halving the cost of launching the Nusantara Satu, which used four tons out of the Falcon 9’s maximum seven-ton capacity.

Once it reaches its geostationary orbit above Papua within two weeks, the satellite is expected to provide internet connectivity of up to 3 megabits per second (Mbps) for 10,000 Indonesian villages this year.

The satellite has a capacity of 15,000 Mbps.

Target Market

The telecommunications company was very optimistic on growth because poor telecommunications infrastructure outside of Java meant that many people still had to rely on satellite-facilitated internet.

Although the promised internet speed of 3Mbps is slower than the last recorded average speed of 7.2 Mbps in Indonesia, there were still at least 25 million Indonesians, mostly in eastern Indonesia, who could not access conventional internet facilities and thus would have to buy satellite internet.

Add to that the 40% – 50% of Indonesians who use video call, which usually consumes more than 1 GB of data.

The company is expecting to record US$ 55 million in revenue each year from Nusantara Satu’s operations.

Because the company is so optimistic over its market potential, it has already started working on two more satellites.

The Nusantara Dua is scheduled for launch in 2020 while the Nusantara Tiga is slated for launch in 2022.

Support from Government and Industry

The Minister for Communications and Information Rudiantara had expressed his support for the Nusantara Satu satellite when he attended the announcement of the official launch in December 2018.

He said that the government appreciate the support of the private sector in their plan of connecting Indonesia and improving the economic efficiency.

The Ministry is also working on its own Satria 1 satellite, which is scheduled for launch in 2022.

Satria 1 will have a larger capacity than the Nusantara Satu, with 150 gigabits per second.

However, the facilities that will be prioritised and focused on for connectivity to this satellite will be public facilities such as schools, clinics and regional administrative offices.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the country’s telecom society had also voiced his support for the private sector companies that can overcome infrastructure barriers and improve internet penetration in Indonesia.

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