Elon Musk arrives in Indonesia’s Bali to launch Starlink satellite internet service

PTI, May 19, 2024, 8:24 AM IST

Elon Musk arrived in Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on Sunday to launch Starlink satellite internet service in the world’s largest archipelago nation.

The billionaire head of Tesla and SpaceX and owner of social platform X arrived by private jet on the idyllic “island of the gods,” which is renowned for its tropical beaches, terraced rice paddies, mystical temples and colorful spiritual offerings. Musk is slated to launch the service alongside Indonesian President Joko Widodo in a ceremony later Sunday at a public health clinic in Denpasar, the provincial capital of Bali. Musk will also sign an agreement on enhancing connectivity in the country’s health and education sectors, said Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who welcomed Musk at the airport.

Pandjaitan, a close ally of Widodo, did not provide more details about the agreement between the Indonesian government and Musk’s SpaceX, the aerospace company that operates Starlink services.

He said launching the service at a health clinic aligns with Starlink’s broader mission of providing affordable access to high-speed internet services, particularly in underserved and remote regions.

Indonesia is a vast archipelago of 17,000 islands sprawled across three time zones with a population of more than 270 million.

“Our remote regions need Starlink to expand high-speed internet services, especially to help with problems in the health, education and maritime sectors,” Pandjaitan told reporters ahead of the ceremony in Denpasar.

Communication and Informatics Minister Budi Arie Setiadi said earlier that local internet providers, which rely on base transceiver stations to transmit signals, are unable to reach outer islands because they have limited coverage. Starlink’s satellites, which remain in low orbit, will help them deliver faster internet speeds with nationwide coverage.

During his first in-person visit to Bali, Musk is also scheduled to participate in the 10th World Water Forum, which seeks to address global water and sanitation challenges.

Musk spoke in 2022 at the B-20 business forum ahead of a summit of the Group of 20 leading economies that took place in Bali. He joined the conference by video link weeks after completing his heavily scrutinized takeover of Twitter.

Musk’s visit comes just weeks after Apple CEO Tim Cook met Widodo on April 17 and said the company would “look at” manufacturing in Indonesia. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella visited on April 30 and said the company would invest USD 1.7 billion over the next four years in new cloud and artificial intelligence infrastructure in Indonesia.

Indonesia under Widodo has promoted development of the digital technology and information sectors, aiming to achieve the government’s Golden Indonesia 2045 Vision. The country hopes to become one of the world’s top five economies with a GDP of up to USD 9 trillion, exactly a century after it won independence from Dutch colonizers.

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