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In late 2011, epidemiologist, writer and adventurer Elizabeth Pisani granted herself a sabbatical from the day job and set off to rediscover Indonesia, a country she has wandered, loved and been baffled by for decades. She was on the road and the high seas for a year, covering dozens of islands in 27 provinces. This site records photos and musings from that journey and beyond. See more about the project


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Notional Networks: the realities of Indonesian Telcoms

Ancient rotary phone under lock and key

Telecommunications in Eastern Indonesia


In my proposal for Taking Tea with the Dead, I wittered on at some length about how fabulously plugged in Indonesia is. The world’s second largest Facebook community, some 18 percent of all Twitter traffic. Jakarta pulsates a glorious crimson on this wonderful Twitter heat map at most times of the day and night.

But as Merlyna Lim reminded us in a recent report on democratization and social media in Indonesia (pdf), most of those people live in Java and Bali, with a smattering in large cities in other islands. Since I’ve started my travels far from the mother-lode, I can identify especially with this map, taken from Lim’s report, of telecoms distribution.

And let’s not forget that that phone pictured above, under lock and key in a Waikabubak guest house, counts as part of the 0.2 percent. I’m hoping some of those open source guys can find a way for us to Tweet by tom-tom.

1 comment to Notional Networks: the realities of Indonesian Telecoms

  • Tira Yudistari

    Dear Eli,
    Internet/Facebook etc are very much develop in Indonesia, but
    aftersales is not as fast as the development in big cities.
    The radisu of service never control by the provider, no matter
    how often we repoorted that their service area not working at
    some areas, the operator provider never give any solution.
    For instance if for 6 months our house still covered by the
    provider signal, and then due to a new tall building built,
    suddenly and nearly everyday we will suffer to get internet
    signal as well as telecom signal. The provider do not monitor
    what is happening in this areas.
    In the villages, the farmer already use handphone, but not all
    provider signal easily access by the handphone user.
    The worse case which I am facing now are with a provider who sells
    their product bundling with a sophisticated telephone, but
    unfortunately this provider service is very awful in its signal,
    even inside a five star hotel (not only around my house).
    In general in my opinion there is a huge development but not in
    balance with the “after sales service”. Thanks.
    Tira

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