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Expanding Internet Reach: Boosting the Economy and Education

by Senaman
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Efforts to increase fast internet access in Papua have shown significant progress with various initiatives from the government and the private sector. One important step is the launch of the Satria-1 satellite in 2023 which aims to expand internet access in remote and underdeveloped areas, including Papua. Satria-1 is designed to provide internet services at more than 50,000 public facility points with speeds of up to 4 Mbps at each point.

In addition, the presence of satellite-based internet services such as VSAT Star from Telkomsat also plays a key role in improving connectivity in the Papua Mountains region. This service is capable of providing internet speeds of up to 200 Mbps per point, which is very helpful in overcoming connectivity constraints in remote areas.

Not only that, private companies such as Starlink have also entered the Indonesian market by providing high-speed internet services. Starlink offers two types of services, namely for corporations with speeds of up to 500 Mbps and for retail with speeds of up to 250 Mbps. The presence of Starlink is expected to encourage equitable distribution of fast internet access throughout Indonesia, including Papua, although it still requires good industry governance arrangements to maintain data security and existing regulations.

With these various initiatives, internet access in Papua is expected to continue to improve, supporting the education, health, and government administration sectors, as well as encouraging digital economic growth in the region.

Starlink, a satellite internet service from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has begun operations in Papua to improve internet access in the region. Starlink provides high-speed internet, reaching up to 200 Mbps per point, which greatly helps remote areas that were previously difficult to reach by conventional internet services.

One of the major implementations of Starlink in Papua is in Pegunungan Bintang Regency (Pegubin). The Pegubin local government, in collaboration with Telkomsat, a subsidiary of Telkom Indonesia, has installed Starlink satellite internet services at various strategic points to support digital-based government operations. With Starlink, Pegubin can increase internet speeds to 250 Mbps, much higher than the previous service which only reached 82 Mbps.

This project not only supports government offices, but also improves internet access in public facilities such as hospitals, schools, and other official offices. This aims to improve the efficiency of public services and support digital transformation in the Papua region.

Starlink’s presence in Papua is expected to reduce the digital divide, allowing people in remote areas to enjoy fast internet services that were previously only available in urban areas. This is an important step in supporting economic, educational, and social growth in the region.

Papua, with its geographical and infrastructure challenges, faces various difficulties in accessing quality education. The internet plays an important role in overcoming some of these challenges, especially in providing wider and more diverse educational resources for students and teachers.

Education in Papua is still lagging compared to other provinces in Indonesia. Papua’s Human Development Index and student learning outcomes are among the lowest in the country. Many schools in remote areas lack basic facilities such as proper buildings, libraries, and laboratories. In addition, teacher recruitment and retention in 3T (underdeveloped, frontier, outermost) areas is also a major challenge. 

The Internet is a vital tool in improving the accessibility and quality of education in Papua. Kominfo’s BAKTI program, for example, has installed internet access in hundreds of education, health, and government locations in Papua. Through initiatives such as the Palapa Ring, fiber optic infrastructure has been built to connect various regions in Indonesia, including Papua, enabling wider internet connectivity. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a shift to distance learning (PJJ), highlighting the urgent need for internet access in Papua. Only around 29.5% of households in Papua have internet access, making it difficult for many students to take part in online learning. To address this, various government programs and collaborations with the private sector have provided internet quota assistance and ICT training for teachers. Various initiatives have been taken to support education in Papua. For example, the KIHAJAR TIK Talks event organized by Pusdatin Kemdikbud focused on offline internet solutions for learning in remote areas. The program highlighted the importance of combining online and offline methods to overcome network limitations in rural areas.

With infrastructure support and training programs, it is hoped that teachers in Papua can better optimize technology in the learning process. Increased ICT awareness and skills among educators as well as students are expected to have a positive impact on academic achievement and open up wider career opportunities for young Papuans. Transforming education in Papua requires continuous collaboration between the government, educational institutions, local communities, and various stakeholders. With better internet access and technology support, education in Papua can become more inclusive and sustainable, paving the way for a brighter future for children in this region.

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