Musk launches Starlink internet services in Indonesia

20 May 2024

Image: ©Aleksandar Todorovic/Stock.adobe.com

Indonesia is a highly populated country with many remote areas that lack proper internet services. Now, Starlink might be able to help.

Elon Musk has launched Starlink satellite internet services in Indonesia to boost connectivity in remote parts of the island nation.

In a post on X yesterday (19 May), Musk announced the launch with a video of the Indonesian flag and the logo of Starlink, a satellite internet constellation owned by SpaceX.

“It is really important to emphasise the importance of internet connectivity and how much of a life-changer and a lifesaver it can be,” Musk told local media.

The largest archipelago in the world to form a single state, Indonesia is a highly populated country of more than 17,000 islands with many remote areas that lack proper internet services. Musk said that Starlink, which is already available in Malaysia and the Philippines, will help fill this gap in the Southeast Asian country.

Shortly after the Indonesia announcement, Musk also revealed that Fiji – an archipelago of more than 300 island – had become the 99th territory to be connected to Starlink’s high-speed internet.

“When you have access to the internet, you can learn anything,” Musk told media. “And if you have goods and services you wish to sell to the world, and even if you are in a remote village, you can now do so with internet connection. So you can bring a lot of prosperity to [remote] communities.”

This announcement comes just weeks after Indonesia bagged a major investment from another US tech giant, Microsoft, which committed to pumping $1.7bn into the country over the next four years to develop its cloud and AI infrastructure.

Microsoft, which reported strong quarterly earnings last month, said Indonesia is one of the fastest-growing groups in the region in terms of developer growth, with a 31pc year-over-year increase in the number of developers on GitHub in 2023. Indonesia also had 213pc growth in the number of public generative AI projects on the platform last year.

In March, SpaceX confirmed the deployment of a fresh batch of Starlink satellites aboard the Falcon 9 into lower-Earth orbit to bring high-speed internet to all corners of the globe.

This came just a day after four astronauts began their journey to the International Space Station aboard the Falcon 9 as part of the NASA Crew-8 mission.

Musk has been making rapid progress in the space sector – with no worthy competitor for Starlink in sight. Even though the idea of making high-speed internet more accessible even in the most remote parts of the world seems noble, there are many concerns around how quickly Starlink is taking over the skies.

For one, sudden bright lights beaming across the night sky has been confusing many. But more serious consequences of Starlink’s ubiquitous presence above the clouds are increased chances of collisions, interference with other scientific missions, the dangers of satellite’s re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere and the growing incidents of space debris.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

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