President Joko Widodo inaugurated the Rp 3.6 trillion ($275.61 million) Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua Cable System (SMPCS) in Manokwari, West Papua, on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Zabur Karuru)

President Hooks Up Papua to Fiber-Optic Backbone


MAY 11, 2015

Manokwari, West Papua. President Joko Widodo on Sunday inaugurated the Rp 3.6 trillion ($275 million) Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua Cable System (SMPCS), a fiber-optic network meant to improve Eastern Indonesia's telecommunications connectivity.

The cable system is a part of the state-owned telecommunication firm Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom)'s plans to connect the entire archipelago with fiber-optic technology by the end of this year.The SMPCS stretches for 8,772 kilometers across 34 districts in North Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, North Maluku, Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, West Papua and Papua. So far, Telkom has installed 6,193 kilometers of fiber-optic cable and it plans to finish the remainder by September.

The eastern network is part of the 76,727-kilometer fiber-optic cable infrastructure that stretches from Sabang in the northwest of Indonesia to Merauke in the southeast.

"The SMPCS will expand the connectivity and boost data service capacity in areas that have never been served well before," Telkom president director Alex J. Sinaga said.Still, the cable system is "only a backbone network and Indonesia still needs the access [at the consumer level]," Communications and IT Minister Rudiantara told those present at the inauguration of the network by video-call from Jakarta.

"To elevate the access quality, we must migrate and rearrange the frequency at 1,800 megahertz for 4G technology," the minister said. "This has been completed in Maluku and North Maluku. We will start doing this in Papua from Tuesday, in Kalimantan and Sumatra at the end of June and it will be finished in Jakarta in November."

4G Long Term Evolution (LTE), or the fourth-generation technology product that provides super fast data transfer for mobile devices, offers improved download speeds compared to current 3G technology offered by many mobile operators.