The History of Internet Exchange in Indonesia
In Indonesia, internet exchanges (IXs) have been around for more than twenty years. The development of IX in the country was started in 1997 — a time that was very different from now. Internet connection used to be expensive, time-consuming, and rather unreliable. Back then, sending an email to a colleague located in the same building as you would mean sending it halfway across the world and back to its intended recipient. So, what happened then?
To address the need for local connectivity that kept increasing, in June 1997, Asosiasi Penyelenggara Jasa Internet Indonesia (APJII) or the Indonesian Internet Service Provider Association started developing a solution that was meant to be affordable yet effective. A task-force comprising a number of top technicians from local ISPs was formed, and this group of people soon came up with a concept of a space where they could connect and exchange data through a switch.
Finally, in August 1997, the Indonesian Internet Exchange (IIX) was officially launched. Compared to its neighboring countries, Indonesia was ahead. In early 2000s, Malaysia and the Philippines recognized the success of Indonesia’s IX and started the development of their own IXs.
The launching of IIX in Indonesia was proven to successfully drive more companies to go online. Before IIX was launched in August 1997, there had been only 740 local domains, with the average increase of 23 domains per month. However, between August and December in the same year, the number spiked from 740 to 1053. This means that, during the period of time, there were 171 new domains per month on average. Even during the monetary crisis in 1998, the number of corporate domains in Indonesia grew to 2115 — more than twice the number at the end of 1997. It was a sign that the presence of an IX became an alternative for various businesses to thrive and survive the crisis.
The Current Situation
Today, among over 600 IXs across the globe, at least 25 are located in Indonesia, spread over more than 15 cities around the country. For more than two decades, IXs have been playing an essential role in driving the growth of the country’s economy and accelerating its digital transformation.
Nonetheless, as technology keeps advancing and the world keeps changing, the work of the IX providers in Indonesia isn’t yet done. Indonesia is a big archipelago and, therefore, needs not only well-developed, but also well-distributed digital infrastructure to ensure equal opportunities in even the most remote areas. According to a report, despite easy internet access in Jakarta, there are still areas in the capital city of Indonesia that aren’t yet covered by any available internet network.
Therefore, IX providers are responsible for facilitating and accelerating the infrastructure development and distribution in Indonesia. A representative from APJII stated, “Today, more and more people are relying on the internet. Since the pandemic, the traffic has been increasing rapidly even in smaller cities and towns.” IX providers need to see this and grab the opportunity to reach more areas and create more digital ecosystems across the country.