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In recent years, great strides have been made in the development of telecommunications infrastructure in Indonesia so that there is now an enticing array of alternative services providing ever-quicker Internet access for consumers in Indonesia. The internet in Indonesia was launched in 1998 and reached 134,000 subscribers. In 2004 that figure had grown to 1.3 million!and In 2010, there were 30 million Internet users in Indonesia, about 13 percent of the population. Broadband use is only about 18 percent of all internet users in Indonesia.
Poll Results from the Expat Forum show that expats are using the following methods to connect to the Internet in Indonesia:
During the early days of the Internet in Indonesia, dial-up connections were the only option for consumers seeking to connect to the Internet. Dial-up services rely on a modem, phone line and ISP subscription to connect users to the Internet. ISPs are Internet Service Providers, who in Indonesia provide email, web hosting and related services. Dial-up connections utilize “narrowband”, phone wires which were originally designed to carry only voice transmissions. While newer modems have a maximum transmission speed of 56 kbps, with the uncertain quality of phone lines in Indonesia the transmission in many areas is still limited to 19,200 kbps or even 9,800 kbps.
While there may be many ISPs with licenses to operate in Indonesia, there are only a few big players that offer stable services. Several ISPs are more popular than others due to wider bandwidth, better customer service and better pricing. Several international ISPs also offer services or local access numbers in Indonesia (AOL and AT&T), with US dollar fees.
For current information on the internet (in Indonesia), visit this website www.apjii.or.id
One of the biggest differences between ISPs is their bandwidth management. Most ISPs purchase bandwidth from Indosat, the Indonesian international telecommunications firm. While the cost of connection to the Internet backbone (bandwidth) is paid in US dollars, the subscriber fees for local ISPs are in rupiah. With the historic volatility of the rupiah/dollar exchange rate, the ISPs are usually cautious about buying more bandwidth than they can afford given their subscriber base. See Explaining Bandwidth.
Ideally, as an ISP adds new customers, they should increase their bandwidth accordingly. If you see your connection deteriorating with time, complain to the customer service desk at your ISP or consider moving to another ISP which has better bandwidth management.
With a dial-up connection, you will find it more difficult to connect during high-traffic hours - early morning, lunchtime and late afternoon. You may have to try several of the ISPs access numbers repeatedly until you can find one that you can get through on. Some services, like Indonet, offer reduced rates in the late evening, when traffic is lowest.
Frequent disconnects are another common complaint of dial-up service. If this is occurring with your connection, it may in fact be the fault of your phone line or your modem, not your ISP. Have your modem tested and get the phone company to check your phone line. In some cases, the phone company can also 'boost' transmission speed over your phone line.
As one visitor to the Expat Forum described the situation ... “The problem with dial-ups is not usually the ISP, but the appaling quality of the Telkom phone lines. They are all single pair (as opposed to dual-pair in US or triple pair in UK) copper wire lines, using the same cable for voice, signal, ring tone and electrical power. The line is therefore “dirty” with all kinds of spurious noises which interfere with the ISP server's signals, making it repeat each block many times before your computer can understand it clearly. Most US and UK lines are now fibre-optic, which is like a CD compared with a 78 rpm record.”
Choosing an ISPNot all ISPs are created equal! When comparing various ISPs to try to determine which to subscribe to - look at the following factors:
Your Phone Bill and the Internet
Don't forget that perhaps the largest expense when using traditional dial-up service is the cost of your phone bill. In addition to your Internet access bill from your ISP, the phone company will charge you for time used (pulsa) on the phone lines as well. This appears in your monthly phone bill. Usually your phone bill will be higher than the ISP bill (by 1 1/2), depending on the time of day you connect. Evening connections are cheaper than office hour connections - so surf in the evening, when possible, to reduce your phone bill charges.
Premium Dial-Up Services
Several of the ISPs offer premium dial-up services to their customers. What you get for the increased cost (per minute or hour) is more successful dial-ups (less busy signals) and lower rate of users to bandwidth, thus faster access. The cost comparison is around Rp 20,000/month for traditional dial-up as compared to Rp 130,000/month for premium dial-up services. Ask your ISP if they offer this service. (prices 2/2011)
A big step up from Dial-up would be to install a T1 internet line. This is usually only feasible for offices, as the cost is significant. A T1 line means that the phone company has installed a fiber optic cable in your office. While much better than a regular phone line, the connection is only as good as the entire route of the line - inside and outside your physical office.
Broadband Internet Connections
Simply, broadband Internet connections can be seen as those that don't utilize traditional phone lines with their 'narrow bands' for transmitting data. Broadband services include co-axial or fiber-optic cable, satellite, microwave, and infra-red links access methods. There are more than a dozen ISPs offering some sort of broadband access to their customers in Indonesia.
Broadband is most suited for people who utilize their Internet connection at least four to five hours a day or for a group of users. Otherwise the cost may be prohibitive.
More information on service providers, services and tarrifs for Mobile Broadband Providers in Indonesia
Several cable companies offer broadband connections to the Internet through co-axial cable with multimedia capabilities. Your connection to the Internet is through a television (or other) cable, instead of a phone line. Broadband cable is capable of carrying multiple channels of rich video, voice and high-speed data, simultaneously. With cable TV connections, you must subscribe to the cable television programming before you can receive the broadband internet connection.
The first companies offering this service utilized ATM systems with a cable modem cost of $370 and up. When it became apparent that this system was inadequate for the growing number of ISPs/subscribers, and with the advent of new technology, most of the multimedia cable networks throughout the world switched over to the DOCSIS system (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications). This is the worldwide cable modem standard supported by all major equipment manufacturers. When a cable company uses DOCSIS, the customer has the option of more suppliers to purchase/lease the modem from. We bring this historical reference up here in case you're one of the people faced with replacing your old ATM modem - so you know why the cable company is urging you to do it.
While some cable companies claim that their network is capable of transmitting 10 mbps or more, you need to accept these numbers cautiously. Yes, the cable company's cables and fiber optic lines may be capable of transmission at that speed, but once you connect through their system to your ISP, you are limited by your ISP's bandwidth to the Internet. It's not so much the provider, when it's cable; it's how many users and how they use the net that are on your particular segment that matters.
Some Broadband Service providers:
Advantages of cable internet connection
Disadvantages of cable internet connection
Note: Be sure that your cable company uses the DOCSIS cable modem and not the ATM system, as the ATM system is being phased out. As early subscribers to Kabelvision found out, if you buy an ATM cable modem, you will have to replace it with a DOCSIS modem at some point in the future. Kabelvision is still going to maintain the ATM platform as well.
Cable Connection Costs
Costs differ for personal or corporate subscribers. For corporate subscribers, broadband cable companies offer packages with different bandwidth alternatives, either shared or dedicated. Needless to say, the larger the bandwidth, the higher the cost and the greater the number of users the slower the access speed.
How cable connections work
Basically your connection to your ISP from your home/office initially runs through the cable company's co-axial cable network. From the cable company's system the connection to your chosen ISP is via fiber optic cable which is capable of transmitting data at 100 mbps. Once you have accessed your ISP, your connection then utilizes their bandwidth to the Internet. Levels of service and speed differ from ISP to ISP.
Most cable companies offer their subscribers several ISPs to choose from. Each ISP has different rates and differing packages of service, some including the cost of the cable modem and some offering the cable modem for lease. Again, ask friends who utilize the cable company which ISP they are using and which has the best reputation and level of service.
Some offices and apartment towers, especially within the Golden Triangle, offer cable broadband connections to their tenants. When choosing lease space, ask the building management about these facilities. Other companies have chosen to open small offices in Serviced Offices to enable them to take advantage of the already existing broadband connection.
Over a dozen ISPs now offer broadband services in Indonesia, contact your ISP to see what they offer.
Marketed primarily to business customers due to its high cost, broadband internet access via satellite is considered to be one of the faster connections available. A recent estimate stated that perhaps 10% of all satellite transponder space in Indonesia will soon be used by ISPs for satellite-based broadband internet access.
The hardware needed to connect to the satellite receiver includes a transmitter, usually a small parabola/satellite dish which is used to download data. Depending on the service provider, you may, or may not, still utilize an ISP's bandwidth for uplinks, limiting your speed. Costs vary from USD1,000 to USD5,000 for handheld/portable transmitters.
Some office and apartment buildings in Jakarta offer broadband satellite access to their tenants. They connect your office's PCs through a LAN operated by the building management, who has purchased the necessary transmitter equipment for connection via satellite to the Internet. As with other kinds of access, the speed will depend on the whether your bandwidth is dedicated or shared, and number of users on the bandwidth.
Contact your ISP to see if they offer satellite access, or call PT Telkom, or Inmarsat for further information.
Known as Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) these lines are a part of Telkom's Multi-Media Access project which offers high-speed/always-on Internet access in parts of several larger metropolitan areas. DSL connections cost more than ADSL because they are NOT asymmetric. The download and upload speeds are the same, whereas for ADSL, they are different (and cheaper).
High-speed data transfer over regular phone lines is difficult (if not impossible) in Indonesia, because it requires telephone lines of high quality which are fine-tuned for high-speed data transfer and a sophisticated infrastructure. Most existing phone lines do not meet this criteria.
If your residence/office is within five kilometers of a telephone switching office, and if your neighborhood is already covered by ADSL service, you maybe able to get a DSL line installed. Check with PT Telkom (Tel. 147) to see if your location qualifies.
ADSL uses the same copper wires that run from your phone operator's switching office into your house/office. However, the circuits have been fine-tuned so that the same phone line can also transfer digital data at high speed. You can continue to use the same line for phone conversations and fax transmission while your PC is accessing the Internet.
Providers usually offer different classes of ADSL services - and the monthly subscription cost varies depending on the speed, with a one time registration cost. Additional fees per minute may be changed, depending on the level of your traffic.
Unfortunately, just like in dial-up connections, you will be charged for both the phone bill and the Internet access connection. You still need to subscribe to an ISP to use this service. Contact your ISP to find out if they offer ADSL connections services utilizing Telkom's ADSL lines.
Some ADSL providers:
(source credit: Zatni Arbi of the Jakarta Post for materials used in this section)
One Forum visitor's experience with ADSL: "Getting connected to ADSL is a lengthy, and frustrating process [it took me 4 months] as you have to deal with Telkom and the ISP you choose. ADSL is pretty new in Indonesia, and so you have to guess and then ask the right question to the right people or things just don't happen.
ADSL is expensive: the bandwidth allowances included in the monthly charges are tiny (500 Mgbts is nothing when downloading say music). Using the service as it is intended leads to high monthly ISP charges, 3 or 4 times that of Singapore or Thailand for the same level of use.
On top of the rental fee and line charges, Telkom also charge an extra c.20% of the monthly bandwidth charges paid to your ISP. They don't make this obvious in their literature!
Telkom also requires a full month's notice (during which they will charge you for access even if the ISP service has been terminated) to close the ADSL services.
When working, the ADSL speed can be good (I used CBN and their speed was consistently high). However Telkom's ISP service grinds to a shuddering halt when more than a few people use it.
CBN and I'm sure other ISPs are constantly "developing" their system. These "developments" lead to server changes which frequently throws the system offline for a few hours, and/or requires one to adjust the settings.
Technical support is poor; the staff are not well trained (in ADSL technology or customer care) and go through the same check list of possible faults for every problem, if - that is - you can get through to them.
In summary the ADSL option is a reasonable service, but it is poor value for money. I have reverted back to my ATT dial up which, even if its slower, is steady, reliable and offers better value." Charles
Our first experience with internet in Indonesia was through the use of a dial-up service named TELKOMNet Instan. This service is charged to your monthly phone bill. Cost per minute Rp 150 (Excluding 10% PPN). Because we send a lot of email with photo attachments, our phone bill was getting quite high. Also, the speed of the connection was sometimes very slow.
I knew that on Java a service called ADSL Speedy was available, After reading an article on the website off Telkom that there was a so-called soft introduction of this service on Bali, I made inquiries at the branch office of Telkom Denpasar. After a quick check by the woman at the helpdesk to see if our number was in the correct range, we were asked to come to the office to apply for connection to Speedy.
After filling out the required forms and paying a connection fee of Rp 150.000, we were told that the activation of the ADSL connection would be done within 2 days! Next, we were handed a list of approved modem/routers. Included on the list were the addresses of shops that were selling the modems. The nearest shop was next door to the Telkom office. So off we went.
The model we opted for, a wireless modem/router was not available
at the moment.
Though there are three packages available on Java, there is only one on Bali.
After we used Speedy for about three weeks, the line went dead. with no connection and no phone. After a call to Telkom, within 30 minutes two technicians showed up and fixed the problem. Apparently, it was caused by a bad connection due to the rainy season.
For some reason at the same time the necessary settings of the modem had disappeared. After calling the vendor of the modem again a technician arrived and restored the settings with no charge for their after-sales service!
Up until now we have only experienced a slow connection one time. After inquiring at the helpdesk we were informed that the slow connection was caused by maintenance and backbone trouble in the Java-Singapore connection.
So far we are very pleased with Speedy. Also the service from both Telkomsel and the modem-vendor is excellent. Both times that we encountered difficulties the helpdesk was most helpful.
Modem vendor CV. Istidata Dps Jl. Teuku Umar 8/B2
Feedback from another user - November 2011: I live in Bali and my internet connection is quite OK (2Mbs/512kbs) using Telkom Speedy. Speedy has several available options here. .
Wireless services connect users to the Internet utilizing wavelan, laser link and microwave. Microwave transmission uses high-frequency radio waves that travel through the air. Because they cannot bend with the curvature of the earth, they can only be transmitted over short sitances. Microwave is ideal for data transmissions between buildings, and can also be relayed through means of dishes or antennas.
Your ISP or computer service provider may be able to assist you in looking at the various wireless options and help you to source the necessary equipment. Infra-red links is a preferred method because it does not require any frequency license and is less prone to interference from adjacent links.
Many service providers are now featuring a DSL and wireless connectivity modem with a USB modem. This modem is perfect for laptop/notebook users and allows them to be connected whereever they go. Be aware that some companies offer better coverage than others and you should inquire as to the range of the modem prior to purchase to make sure you will not be disappointed in the speed and the areas that you can use the service.
Some firms that offer wireless internet connections:
WiMax - With microwave access, rolled out inJune 2010, internet users are able to connect to the Internet from practically any location in the Jakarta metropolitan area. Cheaper and faster than normal fixed-line service, WiMax offers a new option to consider.
The following advice from an Expat Forum poster explains this option well:
“My ISP has a microwave receiver. For distances up to about 2-3 km, and providing there is line of sight to the receiver, this is an excellent method of connecting to an ISP 'wireless'. Unfortunately, the microwave hardware is about USD3,500 to purchase, so may only be of interest to companies. There is cheaper microwave hardware available and also capabilities for shared usage with many users on one microwave system.
Microwave supports bandwidth up to 2048 kbps, and unlike a telephone line there are no media and line rental costs. So, other than the cost of the hardware, all you pay is for the ISP membership. In Indonesia you also need a microwave transmitter license, approximately Rp 1,000,000 (USD100) per annum.
I'm based in the Jakarta Stock Exchange building about 2.5 km from my ISP's receiver and have experienced no problems with a single unit operating 150 users for Internet plus our own web server with a 256 kbps ISP subscription. Microwave hardware may also be used for telephone/video calls, usually about 40 simultaneous calls may be supported.”
Re: Wireless Internet (EVDO using Fren)"I have recently bought a PCMCIA data card that uses the CDMA EVDO cellular line of Mobile-8. It cost me 3 million for the data card, and i pay monthly around 150,000 Rp for super fast connection. The maximum data rate is 2.4 Mb per second, but i usually get download speeds of around 300 KB/s. The great thing about this is i can use this on my laptop and go anywhere in Jakarta and still be able to use the EVDO data card with the same speed. There are 3 types of packets to choose from using their services and i opted for the cheapest (200 MB free per month with 2Rp per KB charged if exceeded) packet and am sofar very pleased with it." August 2006
Wi-Fi Hot Spots
The JiWire Wi-Fi Finder helps you locate WiFi hotspots throughout the world. It also provides assistance in learning to setup and use WiFi. There are 100+ hotspots in Jakarta are listed in the directory.
Thanks to a visitor to the Expat Forum (BigJon) for the following explanation of just what bandwidth is!
Definition: bits-per-second transmission capability of a channel is called its bandwidth.
“You have to imagine bandwidth as a 'tunnel', in one example with 50 mbps across. In other words, at any one point in time either a 'packet' of data or many packets of data up to a total of 50 mbps may pass through together, all at the very same time. Other packets will be in front and behind these packets just like passengers getting on a train through a door.
Sometimes, with many users at the same time the packets of data are squeezed in order that they may fit through the 50 mbps tunnel. This has the effect of slowing down the speed in which you receive data.
Very large packets of data are often 'shaped' so that they fit through the bandwidth alongside other data packets. This also helps ensure the data is received complete as with say program downloads.
Therefore, ISPs are able to sell access to many thousands of people. The problem arises when they all connect at the same time! All ISPs, however, claim that usage is monitored and if data transmission speeds regularly slow down then they purchase more bandwidth.
There are some other tricks, such as dividing the total bandwidth across subscriber groups, so that the true bandwidth you have access to is not a total of 50 mbps, but less. Individual consumers rarely have preferential treatment over corporate customers of ISPs.
Having dedicated packet access is a more specific method of purchasing bandwidth, whereby you are guaranteed a minimum connection speed at all times for a typical packet of data.
Other problems also relate to the bandwidth that the portal/gateway you are accessing is able to support, for example the Indonesian Internet Exchange (IIX) and the exchanges of other countries less advanced than say the US and Europe.
Similarly, the medium you use to receive data may slow down the speed. Although fiber optic cables technically allow data to move at the speed of light, the number of routers between you and the ISP's gateway will effect performance. Similarly, if the medium changes in microwave transmissions before getting to you then this may also effect performance, particularly on a smoggy day in Jakarta.”
At times we all feel a little 'in the dark' when discussing connection-related terminology with our ISP, and we worry that we can easily get the wool pulled over our eyes. Often, an ISP will quote a 'typical' connection speed for their connection. The critical factor in connection speed is the local/international bandwidth ratio. The 56 kbps connection quoted is only typical from the ISP to their local Gateway. The true factor affecting speed is the international ratio.
This may not be so important for the home user, since most ISP ratios are pretty much equal (their connection speeds to the international backbones lead to a speed of 3 kbps per user), but this is critical for dedicated or leased-line connections of a greater bandwidth. If you really want a fast connection, users should ensure that they ask for a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio instead of a standard 4:1 or 8:1. You will pay accordingly, so be aware of what you are purchasing.
How to Choose
As new Internet access options open up for consumers in Indonesia, we will gain experience in the advantages and disadvantages of one Internet access method vs. another. As we've seen happen time and time again, as a new access service becomes popular and lots of people switch over, then the initial success appears to back-fire with reducing connection speeds for the ever increasing numbers of users utilizing a fixed bandwidth.
What to do?
As always, remember - buyer beware! When a service provider starts saying things like “You'll never have a connection problem again.”, “o more connection/download headaches” - think again. The Expat Forum on this site abounds with stories of customers' headaches from almost all of these Internet connection methods.
Also, if you see a drastic change in your service, it could be that there are problems somewhere in the network. If Indosat is having problems with their backbone, then almost everyone is having problems since most of the ISPs rent bandwidth from Indosat.
Since no one enjoys the World-Wide-Wait - we all welcome the services being made available to improve our connections to the Internet in Indonesia. The ISPs certainly are striving hard to improve their service options to their valuable expat and Indonesian customers.
One expat's experience with SmartFren and Axis in Probolinggo
Here in Probolinggo I tried Smartfren for a few months and most of the time it was totally useless. Last month I changed to Axis which appears to be Smartfen under a different name as it is just as bad. Had to wait 10 minutes for this page to load completely. This morning there was no connection at all for a few hours. Many times it refuses to load any page and when it does, it loads half the page and dies. Gawd forbid the page has any graphics. You can go to lunch while you wait. (May 2012)
One expat's experience with the i-net connection in his apartment building
I Live in the Mediterinia Lagoon Apts in Kemayoran. Initially I had a broadband connetion with the service provider i-net. Th connection never stayed opened for more than 30 minutes. Their salesperson recommeded that I change to a wifi connection for incrased speed, On his advice, I upgraded to the wifi i-net star package, where the speed is quoted as up t0 2 mbps with a monthly cost of Rp. 550,000. The connection situation became more worse. I called them many times a day but they accepted that the speed was only 500 bps. When I asked them about that, since I am paying for 2mbps, they replied me that, the package is for "up to 2 mbps" and NOT for 2 mbps. The difficulty is that in our apartment building, they only have an agreement with i-net and no other service providers are allowed. Be cautious about "Up to" connection claims .. and check out the speeds of their wi-fi before you sign a lease! (January 2012)
Another expat's experience with high speed connection with Telkomsel's Speedy Game connection:
Hi, I am an expat who came to Indonesia from Singapore over a year ago, and after a lot of investigation, figured to go with Telkomsel's Speedy Game connection (1mbps) a couple of months back - seems that is the single largest mistake I have made in my life after coming to Jakarta. I use the internet at home infrequently (around 30min a day) but generally download or stream fairly heavily while using the internet from home. Initially the connection worked fine and I was getting around 100kbps download speed, till a couple of weeks back when connection speed dropped to less than 150kbps, and finally for the past few days to less than 100kbps, 10% of what I pay for!. Numerous calls to the customer support 147 have been fruitless. The support guys are the most useless I have probably interacted with - they are very polite, but they don't mean a thing of what they say. They never take ANY action nor ever revert back. One thing that they do a lot however, is lying to the customer. And I have caught them lying quite often. Petty things like - we called you so many times today/this afternoon (when I never got a single call), our technician came to check at your house (when my building security confirmed no one had come), it's a mass area failure (like an apocalypse) but will be resolved once you have complained (WHAT!) ...and more. Wel.l I am still stuck with this internet problem provider (maybe that's what I should call them instead of ISP), so would advise one to check their options. I have heard First Media is far superior (but it's cable based, so I expect it to be better anyway).
Another expats experience .. and expectations compared to internet speeds in Europe:
I am an expat living in Indonesia for quite a few years, unfortunately I always seem to live in areas where there is no cable connection available which means I am stuck with Speedy which is ok as long as you do not have high expectations. Let's face it Indonesia is 3rd world in many aspects and internet is definitely one of them. These are not the lightning fast speeds we are used to in Europe, in fact it is nothing like it. Downloading/sending large files? You will need a lot of patience. Heavy rain means sometimes no connection. Help desk of Speedy is useless, as with everything the guy who installed Speedy @ your place make sure you keep his number and give him some decent money so he is willing any time to come back and help out. Last but not least, do not forget where you live, Indonesia is not Europe. (Oct. 2010)
This article is complemented by the great advice given by visitors to the Expat Forum in response to questions posted on this site and the expert advice of a few web-savvy folks who stepped forward and were willing to preview and give comments on the article. Thanks for your input - it is much appreciated!
If you have other advice you'd like to share regarding your internet access experiences, please send that info to the webmaster and we'll incorporate it into this article. Thanks!
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