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Indonesia’s Communication Technology

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“Hallo Bandoeng! Hier Den Haag!” These words mark the cornerstone of Indonesia’s earliest intercontinental communication. This international phone call happened in 1923, between a dying Dutch grandmother and her son who was residing in Bandung. With time, Indonesia’s communication technology then advanced, fueled by World War II. Despite some setback caused by Japan’s and The Alliance’s invasions, the technology steadily developed after Indonesia attained its independency.

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The development of this technology includes some milestones, being regional household telephony network, followed by brick-sized cellphones (which was quite pricey at the time; early 1990s), preceding the appearance of early smartphones in Indonesia (circa 2000) and accompanied by 2G technology, which was significantly more efficient than its predecessor, also the addition of SMS and MMS features aside from better phone calls. After a while, the technology also provided internet usage through GPRS (General Packet Radio Service; 2.5G) and EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution; 2.75G). A decade after, the 3G technology emerged, allowing real-time video transmission, faster internet speed, and mobile TV.

At present, we have full screen smartphones (far smarter than what we had at early 2000s), smart TVs, smart watches, and smart-everything else. In addition to this, we also have the 4G LTE technology (deployed since 2010) with its improvements. Moreover, transmission of data through optic fiber communications are also massively used, thus drastically enhance data transport speed. As what we can enjoy now, we have faster internet, amended mobile web access, IP telephony (VoIP; Voice over IP), gaming services, high definition mobile TV, video conferencing, and 3D Television. In short, 4G provides us with a more diverse experience of technology, far exceeding its older siblings.

Further technology advancements have also been planned for future implementation. Rumors of a novel technology that is to be commercially available by 2020 have aroused interests of various parties, especially industries. The technology, named 5G, will accommodate the immense needs of people and many sectors, which is exponentially increasing, along with numerous other new concepts such as data science (big data), machine learning, artificial intelligence, and many others. With global mobile data traffic expected to grow eight times by the end of 2023, there is a need for a more efficient technology, higher data rates and spectrum utilization. New applications such as 4K/8K video streaming, virtual and augmented reality and emerging industrial use cases will also require higher bandwidth, greater capacity, security, and lower latency.

Equipped with these capabilities, 5G will bring new opportunities for people, society, and businesses. An example of industrial implementation will include full automation and remote controlling of manufacturing. Other examples on multiple sectors include a breakthrough in the medical field, as surgeons will be able to perform a pre-planned surgery, with the system (and patient) located on the other end of the globe, far less invasive surgeries, robot assisted surgeries, remote diagnosis, cloud computed robots, etc. Examples on other sectors include fully automatic driverless transportation (which will greatly decrease accident rates), improved goods transactions, and many others. In conclusion, the presence of 5G in Indonesia will significantly improve life qualities and support national growth, introducing new experiences our ancestors deemed fictional and futuristic at their time.

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