JAKARTA (JP): What will happen in 2004? Some politicians aren’t prepared to wait that long to see a new president rule the country. Some of us cannot wait that long to see many changes in Indonesia.
If that year ever comes, global players in the telecommunication and information technology (IT) industry will be celebrating one billion subscribers of wireless phone services. According to Hong Kong-based consultants Strategis Group, this year alone wireless phone subscribers have reached 530 million worldwide.
Anticipating the trend, Telkomsel, one of the largest mobile phone operators in Indonesia today, is planning to enhance its telecommunications technology with general packet radio services (GPRS). Through this initiative, Telkomsel will be able to offer much improved services.
Service, or as IT people would call it QoS (Quality of Service), will become a major concern for subscribers. Who would want to have “”network search”” blinking on the phone screen all the time? In its early days, GSM (Global System for Mobiles) could also be called Geser Sedikit Mati or, move a little and the phone is dead.
On the Internet and other networks, QoS is the idea that transmission rates, error rates and other characteristics can be measured, improved and, to some extent, guaranteed in advance.
With GPRS, Telkomsel is running in the fast lane. Based on GSM communication, GPRS has higher data transmission rates which allow users to take part in video conferences and interact with multimedia web sites in any part of the world. GPRS promises data rates from 56 kilobits per second (Kbps) up to 114 Kbps, and continuous connection to the Internet for mobile phone and computer users.
Today’s plain flavored Internet dial-up connection in Jakarta can reach as high as 8 Mbps (Indosat Net connection). Soon enough, users of mobile devices will enjoy the comfort of Internet in their palms at faster speeds. As the speed is gradually improving, mobile Internet keeps its magnetic charm for most of its users.
However, with the possibility of the value-added tax being raised to 12.5% in July and the prices of consumer goods climbing off the wall, apparently the mobile phone industry in Indonesia will remain stable.
More on technology
Another trivia question: what will happen if an effective, acceptable government is finally functioning in Indonesia? Everything goes well according to market demand. Politicians and economists are wearing smiles. Then we can talk about technology advancement further.
Today’s cellular systems are mainly circuit-switched, with connections always dependent on circuit availability. Like that used by Telkom’s POTS (plain old telephone system), most cell phones use a circuit-switched network, where no one else can use the physical lines involved during a call.
In contrast, the next generation of GPRS is already coming. It is called Universal Mobile Telephone System (UMTS). It offers a consistent range of services to mobile computer and phone users no matter where they are located in the world. As with any evolving technology, worldwide deployment of UMTS may take some time.
UMTS is one of the approved standards by the International Telecommunications Union – Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T). Located in Geneva, ITU-T is the main international body that develops cooperative standards for telecommunications equipment and systems.
UMTS meets with the requirement of providing transmission rates of 144 Kbps when mobile, 384 Kbps when pedestrian speeds outdoor, and 2 Mbps stationary indoors.
While it becomes a little faster at each new phase, wireless technology will mature in time. Most European countries and Japan already have the facilities to utilize UMTS, which will be in service after 2002.
Something to ponder
Once UMTS is fully implemented, it will keep people connected at all times and in all places. Phone and PDA (personal digital assistant) users can be constantly connected to the Internet as they travel and have the same set of capabilities no matter where they are.
Privacy and security on the Net is something to consider. If cell phones or PDAs stay online 24 hours a day, this could tempt hackers. With fingerprint, retinal, or voice recognition systems, security is also advancing.
Some of us would like to have time for ourselves; often disconnecting the phone while on vacation. If not, the cell phone in the pocket could be spotted thousands of miles away from where we are. This is made possible by global positioning satellites.
Owned and operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, but available for general use around the world, the global positioning system (GPS) is a constellation of 24 well-spaced satellites that orbit the Earth.
It is possible for people with ground receivers to pinpoint their geographic location. These days, GPS receivers, which can be attached to any electronic device, are becoming consumer products.
Some experts say that technology, bit by bit, chips away at our privacy. Is it possible to design a technology that could conceal personal information? Once we live in borderless space, expect the information explosion at any time. Make use of it, or make the best defense from it.