How Soon is Now?: Preparing Infrastructural Connectivity for Metaverse Ecosystem in Indonesia
November 17, 2022 11:55 pm ||
Metaverse is one of the most-talked about digital technology in recent years. The growing knowledge and subsequent utilization of metaverse has created further discussion on its application in daily lives. Metaverse technology comes with their challenges, but also opportunities that will push humanity further into digital transformation. To implement metaverse broadly, an ecosystem which will allow its application must be ready to use. This includes the readiness of infrastructure for connectivity in the country. In the case of Indonesia, its increasingly tech-savvy population is a prime target for the development of the metaverse. With this in mind, Indonesia’s infrastructure readiness to implement the metaverse ecosystem is worth exploring, as the country is gearing towards a meaningful and sustainable digital transformation.
Metaverse for the Future: What Will Be Needed?
While the metaverse technology hasn’t been developed to its fullest potential, we have seen variations of the cornerstones to the metaverse such as augmented reality (e.g. filter effects on social media) or virtual reality (e.g. using VR devices). Metaverse will not only develop for gaming or social media purposes, but also to be used in different scenarios, such as in telemedicine, real-time working experience through VR or educational purposes. To create and develop the technology better, we need a well-developed connectivity through infrastructure and other components. According to Meta, there are three tasks that are required to fully realize the metaverse. The first is to reduce latency, where in the metaverse, graphics will have to move faster and need a lower latency. The second is symmetric bandwidth, in which we can envision remote rendering of a virtual world over edge cloud or a hybrid rendering. Lastly, is the consistent quality of experience, where resolution of the content will be more advanced and will need a better connection to continuously run on high definition.
Speaking in the Meta and Center for Digital Society talkshow as a part of the “road to G20” event, Ismail Shah (Head of Connectivity and Access Policy APAC – Meta) mentioned that there are five components needed to realize metaverse. These components are: 1) user, 2) access, 3) ISP network, 4) edge/cloud, and 5) international bandwidth capacity in the form of subsea cables. The five previous components are central to the building of the metaverse ecosystem. And despite not all of the components have been fully realized yet in many countries, the development of each component is highly encouraged. This is due to each component carrying their own economic benefits – irrespective of using it for metaverse or not – such as pushing economic growth and increasing jobs. Meta has also invested in the building of subsea cables in Europe and APAC, which can potentially contribute to more than half a trillion USD in additional GDP by 2024. This investment is also expected to create up to 3.7 million new jobs in the Asia Pacific region. For Indonesia, the investment of subsea cables will also be highly beneficial for GDP expansion (predicted to expand the country’s GDP by $59 billion cumulatively) and for job creation (expected to help create up to 1.8 million jobs) by 2025. This shows the benefits that each aforementioned metaverse component can hold for countries.
Indonesia’s Readiness for the Metaverse: Challenges and Solutions
Thus we turn to the question on how ready is Indonesia’s digital infrastructure to realize this metaverse ecosystem? Indonesia’s internet still has room for improvement, as the country is placed 46th globally and 11th among the 22 countries in Asia in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Inclusive Internet Index 2022. It is said that while Indonesia experienced growth in infrastructure readiness in 13th place, it is still placed at number 45th on the availability category. This category pertains to “the quality and breadth of available infrastructure required for access and levels of internet usage”. The penetration level of fixed broadband in Indonesia is also still low, at 14,5%. As the implementation of the metaverse requires a fast, stable and massive reach of the internet, Indonesia’s digital infrastructure and inclusiveness should be maximized further for it to be utilized by all citizens of Indonesia.
There are other challenges which can pose a problem for building the metaverse in Indonesia. A geographical problem is inherent in Indonesia’s digital infrastructure development. Indonesia has over 6,000 inhabited islands and this resulted in the arduous digital infrastructure implementation of the country. This problem requires a well-measured government intervention, which can be in the form of regulations – one that should be friendly to investment, give space for meaningful technological advancements, and promote efficiency to realize the metaverse ecosystem. An example of this through infrastructure sharing across stakeholders. One of the examples of the government’s effort to strengthen the country’s ICT infrastructure is through the Palapa Ring project. The project was launched in 2019, aimed to provide 4G internet services throughout the archipelago. It comprises 35,000km of undersea fiber-optic cables and also 21,000km of land cables.
Another challenge stems from the need to foster home-grown talents to develop new technologies. With its big potential, Indonesia shouldn’t be merely a “target” market, but also actively participating in the research and development of the metaverse. For this issue, the government and private sector alike should work together to develop young Indonesians’ competence on metaverse. Lastly, to enjoy metaverse in the future, a robust broadband infrastructure is needed. Nies Purwanti, the Senior Director of Government Affairs in Qualcomm International, said that this can be achieved by investing in fiber optics in Indonesia. Another solution is by the expansion of wireless broadband technology through 5G and 5G millimeter wave development. The development of 5G technology will ease the application and development of metaverse in the country.
Stakeholders’ Responses to Indonesia’s Digital Infrastructure Challenges
To alleviate the infrastructural challenges of metaverse implementation in Indonesia, there have been some initiatives and responses from various sectors to address this issue. The government, quoted from the Spokesman of MOCI, has supported Indonesia’s digital infrastructure readiness for metaverse in three ways. The first is through developing digital infrastructure and digital talents, facilitating digital economy, and developing digital government. 5G technology is also developed, with 5G now being available in 49 cities across Indonesia. Lastly, the government helped manage spectrum frequency radio to give room for new technological advancements in the near future through lower latency and VR streaming without pause. Dr. Ismail also mentioned that regulations between central and local government should be synergized and fiberization is an important key for growth to increase the quality of Indonesia’s digital infrastructure. Responses also came from the private sector. Nies Purwanti explained the initiatives that Qualcomm has given to support the development of metaverse infrastructure in Indonesia, such as cooperating with tech startups through the “Qualcomm XR Development Platform”, funding initiative “The Metaverse Fund”, 5G and AR courses for university students, and opening up their technology’s product licensing to interested enterprises.
Seeing the challenges that can impede the infrastructural readiness of metaverse in Indonesia, a multi-stakeholder cooperation is desperately needed to work out these shortcomings together. Indonesia Internet Service Provider Association (APJII) Muhammad Arif laid out three steps that can be done between stakeholders, 1) incentivize the industry to promote equal internet access, 2) collaborate with tech owners to search for “wise” technologies to be implemented, and 3) improve digital literacy to increase citizens’ productivity. From the industry’s perspective, Ismail Shah emphasized the need for interaction and collaboration between stakeholders and to follow international best practices regarding issues of connectivity. He also reiterated the urge to enable the metaverse ecosystem components in the country, so that it can be adopted gradually. In his last statement, Dr. Ismail explained that MOCI will try to carry out their connectivity road map and establish lucrative collaborations with the industry. Thus, it can be concluded that building widespread and reliable internet infrastructure is paramount to the development and subsequent application of the metaverse, and that there is a need to re-emphasize the urgency for multi-stakeholder collaboration to make this concept a reality.
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