Arsip Kategori: telecommunication

My Old Article (3): GPRS — A new technology to put you on the fast track


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 UnionTelecommunication 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.

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Life | Sun, June 17 2001, 7:29 AM


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My Old Article (2): Unwiring the Internet blunder on the many islands of Indonesia


JAKARTA (JP): The Internet in Indonesia is like the city of Jakarta: many activities backed up in a terrible traffic jam. “”Slowly but surely we are becoming connected to the outside world,”” says Alika Aurelia, an Internet observer and owner of several information technology (IT)-related companies in Jakarta.

Every day commuters have to face the deranged and crowded streets. So do the subscribers of Internet service providers (ISPs) in Indonesia. Data, from simple text to video streaming, travels through phone lines like cars at peak-hour, jammed and bottlenecked, Alika adds.

The infrastructure of messy streets in Jakarta is to be blame for traffic problems. And the Internet in Indonesia is facing the same problem: poor infrastructure.

With so many alleys and dead-ends, Jakarta also has three main streets: Sudirman, Thamrin and Rasuna Said. In Indonesia today, there are many ISP allies, with three major players: Indosat, Telkom and Satelindo.

The main issue limiting the number of players is the monthly spending on Internet licenses, which cost thousands of dollars per month. And if the dollar keeps floating toward the ceiling, even the main players could crash. Let’s hope not.

License to Speed

The costly license is all about bandwidth. Bandwidth, the complexity of the data for a given level of system performance, allows text (as the data) to be downloaded in a second. It is also possible to download photographs or more complicated data in a second. However, to download a photograph requires more bandwidth.

Large sound files and computer programs require even more bandwidth for acceptable system performance. More complicated data is moving pictures with sound, or movies for short. One can request a movie as a pay-per-view commodity, then the movie is transferred by streaming or downloading methods.

Ultimately, virtual reality (VR) and full-length three-dimensional audio-visual presentations require the most bandwidth of all. Today, VR and 3D movies are still undergoing trial-and-error analysis in technology labs — one of them is the University of North Carolina, where Howard Rheingold, author of Virtual Reality, has experienced early VR technology.

Technology humbuggery

In brief, from simple text to VR, all transmitted and received signals, whether analog or digital, have a certain bandwidth.

In digital cable and fiber-optic systems, the demand for ever-increasing data speeds outweighs the need for bandwidth conservation. There could be an abundance of bandwidth to go around if more and more cables are continually installed, but then again, hard wires are plentiful. Where else can solid cables be placed; under feet or above heads?

With no wires to install instantly, demand exceeds supply. However, there are always other efforts to anticipate a more dynamic, often interactive, multimedia content by “”re-arranging”” the network infrastructure.

One of the efforts could be upgrading the Internet protocol (IP) networking. It shifts from Layer 3 connectivity issues to the construction of intelligent, Layer 4 – 7 infrastructures.

Network layer upgrades

Principally, the IT industry emphasis is turning to specially tuned overlays to the Internet. They are called content delivery networks or content distribution networks (CDNs).

A CDN is a system, frequently an overlay network to the Internet, that has been built specifically for the high-performance delivery of rich multimedia content. A CDN’s raison d’etre is to make the Internet a trusted delivery network for mission-critical, content-rich CDN services.

CDNs address the severe response-time demands, mainly by minimizing the number of Internet backbones that a site requests. This results in streaming or downloadable content encounters becoming much shorter.

The CDN also contains a lookup service that steers a content request to the content surrogate that is closest (geographically or shortest travel time) to the user and/or is the least busy.

Wireless solution

To some extent, Alika remarks, the industry needs to also think of alternative ways such as “”wireless”” communication infrastructure. Either way, restructuring the network systems or building new infrastructure for wireless devices, there are some issues for consideration. Let’s look into the wireless further.

Wireless communication systems carry a signal through atmospheric space without, of course, wire. The early form of the wireless system, or wireless for short, was the “”telegraph”” that went on air in the early years of the 20th century.

Besides radio, television, facsimile and other data communication devices, perpetuating wireless progress has inspired the advent of other devices: from the most complex: full-feature cellular phones, global positioning systems (GPS), cordless mouse or keyboard; to simple baby monitors.

Wireless transceivers are available for connection to portable digital assistants (PDAs) and notebook computers, allowing Internet access without the worry of having to locate a phone jack. One of these days, it will be possible to link any computer to the Internet via satellite, wherever the computer is located on the globe.

In Europe, new high-bandwidth allocation for wireless local area networks (LANs) are expected to be installed where existing LANs are not already in place. With a wireless LAN, a mobile user can also connect to a network through a radio frequency. To some extent, this could be considered as an inexpensive way of tackling infrastructure problems.

If it were possible to introduce this development in Indonesia, with its many scattered islands, it would be a great move toward resolving the infrastructure logistics nightmare. Moreover, if the wireless LANs also communicated directly with a satellite, then this could also cut down the hierarchy of network routing. No traffic jam, no more ill-famed world wide wait.

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Life | Sun, May 06 2001, 7:21 AM


Glocal Media

Saya baru saja menuntaskan satu karya tulis yang selama enam bulan terakhir saya ubah, dari sebuah buku teks menjadi buku berhipotesis tentang kebijakan publik dan media. Saya melakukan studi banding atas sektor M&E (media and entertainment) di China dan di Indonesia, dan khususnya tentang isi media atau lebih dikenal dengan istilah “content”. Saya tak harus pergi ke China untuk mendapatkan berbagai informasi, karena saya hanya duduk membaca seluruh sumber (pdf atau lalu menulis dan membaca lagi. Saya juga hanya berkirim email ke Prof. Anthonyy YH Fung dari School of Journalism and Communication, CUHK, Hong Kong dan Dr Umair Haque dari Havas Media Lab, Amerika Serikat.

Ini buku kedua tentang media, dan buku ketiga kalau dihitung dari buku dwibahasa cerita anak yang saya tulis semasa kuliah dulu.

Silakan klik sini untuk membaca lebih lanjut, dan klik sini untuk lampiran pdf atau video.



Mempelajari Media Hari Ini

Tahun 1997 adalah tahun saya bergabung dengan salah satu kanal JV milik Malicak dan Star TV Hongkong. Sebelum wawancara dengan CEO-nya, saya harus menyiapkan sebundel materi cetak yang saya peroleh dari internet. Belum ada Google waktu itu, hanya Yahoo. Saya ingat mencari dengan mesin Yahoo itu menyebalkan; suka tersesat. Materi cetak itu untuk memberikan saya amunisi jika bertemu dengan Pak CEO yang bule itu. Tentu saja saya tak ingin gagap saat menjawab “What is pay-TV?”. Tentu saja, dengan amunisi sebanyak itu saya mampu menjawab tanpa gagap.

Hari ini saya masih membaca terus unlimited material yang ada di dunia maya ini tanpa harus mengeluarkan tiket pesawat atau kertas printout secarikpun. Saya masih ingin mengunyah dan mencerna fenomena media hari ini. Satu hal pasti, teknologi yang begitu pesat di luar sana, masuk ke sini hanya seujung kuku. Sampai hari ini tak banyak anak bangsa ini yang mampu mencari jalan bagaimana membuat alat dan infrastruktur yang memudahkan “sebuah media” bergulir mengikuti teknologinya. Silicon Valley di Amerika Serikat adalah surga bagi mereka, dan mereka yang bekerja di sana sekarang bukan lagi dikenal sebagai IT Nerds tapi Media Tycoons. Go figure…!

Saya masih membaca di sini dan di sini, bagaimana sekian banyak saluran audiovisual yang bisa ditonton kemudian menjadi seperti sekarang dan bagaimana model bisnis mereka mulai mencari jalan ke titik paling menguntungkan. Bayangkan Youtube adalah fenomena yang tak bisa diprediksi oleh orang kebanyakan 5 tahun lalu, namun hari ini bukan main pemasukannya. Jalur kabel serat optik bawah laut yang masih jadi perdebatan di negeri ini sudah digelar puluhan tahun lalu oleh mereka yang memiliki visi, seperti Singapura, Malaysia dan Jepang. Singapura telah memasang Wimax di seantero daerah bahkan hingga ke sepanjang pesisir negeri pulau itu. Tak ada sinyal internet raib di sana sepanjang kita duduk di atas mobil yang berjalan. Di sini? Haha, nanti banyak operator telko gulung tikar dan tak ada lagi pemasukan bagi negara.

Right on, selain IT Nerds dan Media Tycoons… saya singgung Telco Moguls. Ini adalah media hari ini. Konvergensi. Apakah kita siap dengan model bisnis dan segala perkembangan yang akan terjadi? Go figure…



Belanja Iklan: Homo Erectus Toiletricus, sp

Hari ini kepemilikan pesawat TV di Amerika Serikat mulai menurun, belanja iklan untuk televisi di Indonesia tetap tinggi. Pertumbuhan iklan menurut sektor yang tertinggi adalah telekomunikasi, susu dan otomotif. Produk kecantikan (toiletries) yang saya pikir tetap tumbuh tinggi tak masuk 3 besar. Saya, sebagai warga urban Jakarta, adalah pengguna belasan macam merek dan jenis toiletri saat mandi hingga sebelum tidur. Sabun cuci tangan, sabun mandi cair, sampo, odol, obat kumur, tonik rambut, obat mata, pembersih muka dan kapas kecantikan, lotion badan, lotion tumit, pelembab malam, hingga vitamin malam. Ini hanya terhitung 3 jam sebelum tidur… bayangkan sepanjang hari sejak bangun!

Iklan membuat saya terlalu konsumtif untuk mempercantik diri (baca: menyamankan diri). Mencium wangi badan sendiri setelah seharian penat bekerja membuat pikiran sebelum tidur tenang. Iklan masuk ke pikiran kita secara kasar hingga halus, bahkan saat kita menonton film blockbuster atau klip video musik J-Lo terbaru: ada Swarovski dan BMW di situs Youtube. Produk-produk global masuk ke tayangan audio visual lingkup global. Bagaimana produk lokal seperti nasi gudeg Mbok Yam beriklan? Tentu ada pertimbangan khusus.

Pertanyaan kemudian, di tengah maraknya media sosial dunia: apakah iklan satu arah (push advertising) masih relevan hari ini? Dengan ulang tahun Telkomsel 100 juta pelanggan, yang bisa jadi sebagian kecil sudah berlangganan sambungan internet langsung, memudahkan si pelanggan mencari iklan yang ia inginkan (pull advertising). Ya, mungkin 100 juta telepon genggam bukan berarti 100 juta telepon genggam. Siapa tahu ada beberapa orang yang memiliki kartu prabayar setiap minggu atau bulan mengganti nomornya. Whatever…

Belanja iklan tak berubah banyak dari tahun ke tahun, sementara ratusan saluran TV di negeri beberapa mulai sekarat atau bahkan telah tumbang. Produk-produk konsumsi (bukan produksi) seperti toiletri telah banyak merambah jejaring sosial seperti Facebook. Berbagai permainan pun telah disertakan… mungkin satu hari nanti biaya beriklan produk-produk konsumsi tak akan memakan biaya mahal untuk “media placement” tapi lebih kepada “produksi yang lebih kreatif, gila, norak, lain dari yang lain”… it’s people matter, no more peoplemeter!


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