|Issue:||Asia-Pacific I 2009|
|Topic:||Full convergence step-by-step in Indonesia|
|Title:||Minister for Communication and Information Technology (MCIT)|
|Organisation:||Republic of Indonesia|
Mohammad Nuh is the Minister for Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) of the Republic of Indonesia. Prior to being named as Minister, he was the Rector and Professor of Electrical Engineering Department of Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS). Mohammad Nuh received his Engineering degree from ITS in Surabaya, Indonesia and a Doctoral degree from Signaux et System, Universite Science et Technique du Languedoc (USTL), Montpellier, France.
Indonesia’s Ministry for Communication and Information Technology’s is leading the convergence of Indonesia’s ICT, telecommunication, Internet, and broadcasting infrastructures. In 2008, they completed the migration from analogue to digital television, converged the telecommunications and broadcasting infrastructures and separated broadcast transmission from programming. The government merged their own television broadcasting and telecommunications infrastructures, and six of the largest television broadcasting companies have merged their transmission infrastructures as well. The convergence roadmap will soon extend to Indonesia’s ICT infrastructure, services and content.
Nowadays, people demand convenience and digital technology provides it. Digital technology, in the form of goods or services, plays a prominent role in our lives, as it enables us to devise equipment that is smaller, more compact, more reliable, more user-friendly and, above all, more convenient. In a digital world, information of any type is represented by a combination of 0s and 1s, so different kinds of information, such as voice, text, video and graphics can all be represented and processed in the same way – as digital content. As a result, we can process all these types of content simultaneously using just a single device. Tasks that previously required separate equipment for each task can now be dealt with using a single convergent device that handles any kind of digital content. Digital equipment is also often programmable. In other words, the services provided by digital equipment depend on the application programs installed in it. The programs are, so to speak, in a separate layer and control the way the physical infrastructure handles the services it supports as well as the interaction between services and the consumer premises equipment (CPE). Digital technology – since it is all just a matter of processing 0s and 1s – also makes it much simpler to impose interoperability standards for all digital infrastructures, services, consumer premises equipment, and content. Indeed, many such international standards have already been established. By following interoperability standards, broadcast programming – TV and the like, and a wide variety of other content previously available only on dedicated platforms, can be delivered to mobile handsets via the Internet infrastructure. Since distinct types of information can all be represented as digital information, they can be all be treated similarly; this makes the wide scale convergence of infrastructure, services and content for telecommunications, the Internet, media, and entertainment (TIME) possible. Technology has already played its role; now it depends on the government to ensure that the transition to converged services is as smooth and rapid as possible. This could be achieved by means of regulations, giving directions and providing incentives to the operators to adopt this innovative technology. Considering Indonesia’s complexity and diversity, this would not be an easy task. With more than 240 million inhabitants spread over more than 17 thousand islands, the diversities in educational levels, income levels, cultural values, geographic conditions and other factors are tremendous. The Government of Indonesia, therefore, hopes that TIME convergence can be used to overcome and transform these diversities from national liabilities to national assets. Fortunately, the Government of Indonesia has already been preparing itself for this shift. For instance, in 2005, through the MCIT (the Ministry for Communication and Information Technology), the government successfully grouped its Directorate of General of Telecommunication, which was previously part of the Ministry of Transportation, with the Directorate General of Broadcasting and the Directorate General of Application Services of MCIT. With the three major elements of ICT controlled by one ministry, the task of converging the ‘triple C’ (communications, computers, and content) is a lot simpler. The first task to establish convergence was to devise a roadmap for the convergence of ICT infrastructures; this was completed in early 2007. The roadmap establishes the year of 2012 as a milestone; by then, all of Indonesia’s ICT infrastructures (telecommunication, Internet, and broadcasting) should be converged. The next task in the agenda was to create a plan for migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television; this was completed in 2008 with emphases on: • separation of broadcasting carriers and broadcasting program services; and • convergence of telecommunication and broadcasting infrastructures. With these two objectives in mind, a ‘beauty contest’ for field trial licenses was conducted last year to select the best examples, two of each, of terrestrial television and mobile television operators. The trial starts mid-January this year and will run for nine months but, if necessary, it could be extended an additional three months to help define innovative business and regulation models to accommodate the above two objectives. Taking advantage of the momentum of the migration plan, MCIT has provided the impetus for the government owned television broadcasting (TVRI) and government controlled telecommunication company (TELKOM) to establish a consortium. This consortium will administer the terrestrial digital television broadcasting carrier service infrastructures for several government owned and other non-commercial, especially educational, broadcasting stations which, using TVRI’s infrastructure, will function solely as content providers. The government has high expectations for this experiment, since it shows how the infrastructure, services, and contents layers of two separate organizations, TELKOM and TVRI, from different sectors – telecommunication and broadcasting, can be integrated within its innovative model for future of TIME services. This experiment will give the government the information and experience it needs to formulate the directives, regulations and incentives required to transform the sector so that all stakeholders will obtain maximum benefits from convergence. More importantly, the business model drawn from this experiment will be valuable to private sectors in managing convergent in the future. To the government’s pleasant surprise, six of the largest national television broadcasting companies followed the government steps by also establishing a consortium. They established an independent entity that will serve as a carrier for all six companies and they seem certain to invite other companies as well. In the future, these companies will concentrate on what each of them excels at – creating programme content. Even though it is still in a field trial phase and does not include a single telecommunication operator as a member, MCIT is pleased with their insights into the separation and convergent issues that currently are being discussed around the world. Furthermore, the government perceives that digital television migration is a stepping-stone to a new model of convergent infrastructures and services, and wants to seize this opportunity properly. Once this new model is in place, the government will receive great long-term benefits from a variety of social and financial digital dividends including the higher license fees paid by carriers compared to the fees currently paid by broadcasters. As to the public, because of convergence they will enjoy a greater selection of channels – including not just television broadcasts, but data, Internet and telecommunication services as well. The third item on the convergence agenda is a trial of mobile television services. MCIT has limited the applicants to all but the consortia of mobile telecommunication and television broadcasting companies. Given the same objectives as in the terrestrial case, this restriction ensures that they invest efficiently in providing the service by exploiting the already available cellular telecommunication networks. More importantly, it also ensures that Indonesia will be ready to embrace the era of convergent ‘TIME’. There are still many tasks planned this year by MCIT to achieve full convergence: • extend the convergence roadmap to ICT infrastructure, services and content; • revise the Telecommunication Law of 1999 to take convergence into account; • open IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) license applications from wire-line operators – starting with Video on Demand (VoD) services and progressively adding other advanced IPTV features; • allocate additional 2x5MHz frequency blocks in 2.1GHz, solely for data services for each 3G operator so subscribers can enjoy faster, more reliable, mobile broadband data and Internet access services; and • auction a portion of the 2.3GHz band for telecommunications companies interested in deploying nomadic WiMAX networks as infrastructure for broadband Internet access. The last two entries are particularly important because convergence needs a robust broadband infrastructure to handle the enormous traffic of digital content. For capacity, flexibility and mobility, wireless broadband access is a necessity. Although there is still more to do to implement full scale convergent TIME, the above plans will pave the way for future growth. The MCIT’s grand objective is to increase the value of ICT by planning its migration from a connectivity medium, to a transaction medium, on to a collaboration medium and, finally, to a medium for transformation. TIME convergence does exactly that. For instance, with a single multipurpose mobile device, one need not wait to return home, one can watch the news while returning from work. While watching television, one could search the Internet for more detailed information, check security at home, send an email and speak with a friend. This wide-ranging functionality, that multiplies the value of ICT and turns it into a tool for transformation, is the raison d’être of convergence.