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Connecting Yosephina with her dad

(Oct. 2022) Yosephina misses her dad. She wants to at least talk to him regularly by phone or video app. But that only happens when there’s a good signal. She lives with her auntie on the island of Biak in Papua, Indonesia, and the wireless coverage used to be unreliable. At best. 

Her dad works in the town of Timika in central Papua. Hoping to reach him, Yosephina and her auntie used to walk to the very end of Biak’s long wooden pier. Sometimes, calls got through. Other times, when the signal wasn’t stable, the frustration was obvious in the eyes of the teenager. Not impressed.

At the end of the pier, and no signal

But the Indonesia government has a national policy to provide connectivity to everyone in Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 17,500 islands. And Huawei, working with its local Indonesia partners, is playing a key role in implementing that vision. 

Installing wireless infrastructure in the remotest parts of Indonesia is no easy task. The islands are often reached only by small boats, on seas that can suddenly turn rough. Once on the island, the roads are rough, when not covered in mud pools. That’s when there are roads. Often, engineers and technicians must carry heavy wireless equipment by foot for a few kilometers to reach a suitable site. 

Technicians from Huawei and its local partners must first journey to the site, then climb extremely high towers above the jungle

But kids like Yosephina are a great motivator for the courageous technicians who network the islands. “Yosephina needs Internet access because she’s about to take her elementary school final exams,” says Muhammad Umar Safi’I, a Huawei Indonesia Wireless Engineer who directed work in Biak. While they set up equipment in remote places, Safi’i and his team mates often think of the impact of their work. “It pushes us to strengthen our mentality because what we do, we do for the benefit of a lot of people.” 

For Huawei and its partners, providing connectivity in Papua is but a first step in a journey that will unfold over many years to come. Because connectivity and economic development are closely linked. “We don’t want to stop here,” says Roby Yap, general manager of Huawei Tech Investment. “We want to witness the people in this area grow, using technology Huawei provided. 

Yosephina on her way to school

For now, however, Biak residents are delighted with their 4G. “I love using my phone,” Yosephina says. “I like to search for gospel music, religious videos, and study math on the internet; because I love learning about mathematics. 

Huawei has developed a wide range of products, technologies, and knowhow to provide connectivity for the tens of millions of people around the world who are still unconnected. This includes low-cost antennas; solar power, batteries, and energy-management systems; and a vast range of microwave links that can reach isolated communities.

Huawei engineer Umar Safi’i tests Biak’s first 4G signal

The solutions can be basic and highly affordable, or more sophisticated, depending on local needs. Huawei’s highly economical RuralStar solution represents a complete rethink of base station design. RuralStar is made up of robust but simple telecommunications components. The kit requires so little energy to operate that a few solar panels are enough. More complex “Butterfly Sites” are set up on taller antenna poles. They typically can provide network coverage over several frequency bands and can serve a wider territory because of their height. 

Watch Yosephina’s story below. And for more about Huawei's efforts to Connect the Unconnected, see our event of Nov. 23 2022 Sustainability event Connectivity+: Innovate for Impact