Tech Billionaire Elon Musk Launches Starlink in Indonesia, Signs Health Sector Agreement

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Elon Musk Brings Starlink to Indonesia, Aiming to Bridge the Digital Divide

DENPASAR, Indonesia – Tech mogul Elon Musk launched his satellite internet service, Starlink, in Indonesia on Sunday, aiming to bridge the digital divide in the vast archipelago nation. Millions of Indonesians, spread across over 17,000 islands, lack access to reliable internet services.

First Visit, Big Plans

This marked Musk’s first visit to Southeast Asia. He inaugurated Starlink at a clinic in Bali’s capital, Denpasar, signing an agreement with Indonesia’s Health Minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, that focused on the health sector. Witnessing presentations by Indonesian healthcare staff from Bali and Maluku provinces, Musk observed the dramatic increase in internet speeds after Starlink’s implementation.

Pilot Program Paves the Way

Starlink underwent a successful pilot program in three healthcare facilities across the region. This allowed the input of crucial data sets – immunization records, child nutrition data, and diabetes management information – into the national health system.

“We are very excited to bring connectivity to places that either have no connectivity or, as you saw in the demonstration, very low bandwidth connectivity,” Musk stated at a press conference.

Sporting a traditional Balinese “endek” woven shirt, he emphasized the potential impact, “This can be a lifesaver for remote medical clinics. And I think it can be transformative for education as well.”

Government Initiatives and Early Rollout

With concerns about rising sea levels and land subsidence threatening Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital is on the move. Nusantara, the new capital on the island of Borneo, is scheduled to open in August. Starlink services will be trialed there this month.

The Indonesian government has allocated a budget to equip 10,000 state-owned clinics across the country with Starlink in the initial phase. Minister Sadikin, while not disclosing the specific amount, assured that the budget “is expected to be enough to cover the Starlink’s costs.”

Starlink, already operational in Southeast Asia through Malaysia and the Philippines, utilizes a network of low Earth orbit satellites to deliver internet access to remote locations and areas with compromised communication infrastructure.

Addressing the Digital Divide

According to the World Bank, only around two-thirds of Indonesia’s roughly 270 million population had access to the internet in 2022. This initiative by Starlink, coupled with government support, holds the potential to significantly improve internet connectivity in the region.

Beyond Starlink’s launch, Musk is scheduled to speak at the World Water Forum on the holiday island on Monday.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk and Indonesias health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, inaugurate the launch of the Starlink internet service in Balis capital of Denpasar on Sunday. — AFP/file

Tech billionaire Elon Musk and Indonesia’s health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, inaugurate the launch of the Starlink internet service in Bali’s capital of Denpasar on Sunday. — AFP/file

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