Operators warn of ‘blackout’

Ni Komang ErvianiThe Jakarta Post ,  Denpasar   |  Fri, 12/19/2008 11:02 AM  |  Bali

The Badung administration will soon began demolishing communication towers considered obstructing the natural beauty of its main tourist destinations.

The association of the cellular service providers has opposed the move, warning that the policy would instead result in a massive cellular “blackout”.

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika said Thursday he supported the policy, stressing that it was necessary to protect the resort island from being transformed into a forest of towers.

“It is also based on an existing regulation, Badung Bylaw No 6/2008, so it is a legitimate policy,” Pastika said.

Badung Transportation Agency Made Sutama said Wednesday the public order officers would soon tear down the towers belonging to several cellular service providers and private tower operators.

“In the first stage we will pull down towers which have no Building Construction Permit (IMB) or have expired IMBs. In the following stages, we will demolish them when their IMBs expire,” he said.

The policy’s goal is to clear the regency’s skylines, particularly near major tourism destinations, from man-made obstructions, Sutama said.

“We don’t want them to disturb the natural beauty of our tourist landscapes and skylines,” he said.

Badung is home to several of the province’s most prominent tourism destinations including Kuta and Nusa Dua.

There are 148 communication towers in the regency, which cellular service providers use for their BTS (Base Transceiver Station), equipment that facilitates wireless communication between the network and user equipment, i.e., mobile phones and computers with wireless Internet connectivity.

Of the towers, 43 belong to Telkomsel, 40 Indosat, 31 Excelcomindo, 18 Three, nine Telkom, four Indonesian Tower and another three belong to United Tower.

Suartama said the Badung administration had selected Bali Towerindo as its official tower operator. The bylaw has made it mandatory for the cellular service providers to use the towers provided by this company.

In return, the company has pledged to share its revenue with the administration. From each contract with a service provider, the administration will receive an additional annual income of Rp 20 million from the company.

“The company already has 49 towers and we are asking all the providers to use them on a collective basis,” he said.

Head of Badung Public Order unit Adi Arnawa said he had sent official notices on Dec. 12 asking all the providers and private operators to dismantle their towers by themselves.

“If they have not demolished the towers within a week, we will do it ourselves,” he said.

The policy has received strong protests from the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Cellular Communication Association (ATSI).

It warned that the demolition would trigger a total communication blackout in the entire area of Badung, including Ngurah Rai International Airport, Tuban, Nusa Dua, Kuta and Jimbaran.

The association estimated the blackout would affect 900,000 cellular service subscribers and 150,000 fixed-line telephone subscribers.

“Around 45,000 foreign tourists, who subscribe to the international roaming service, will also not be able to use their phones in the Badung area,” ATSI spokesperson Hari Purwanto said.

The figure excludes thousands of domestic tourists, a large number of which are cellular service subscribers, who will flock to the island the end of this year, he said.

“It will also disrupt the 3G Broadband and Internet access at the island’s hotels,” he warned.

ATSI has refused to use the Bali Towerindo towers because of their limited capacity, as they will only be able to cater to 147,000 subscribers while each cellular service provider has an average number of 300,000 subscribers in Badung alone.

Governor Pastika promised to review the arguments and to come up with acceptable solutions for all parties, as he doesn’t want the policy to cause unnecessary damage to the province’s tourism industry.

About erviani

Jatuh cinta dengan dunia jurnalistik sejak bergabung dengan Lembaga Pers Mahasiswa Indikator, Fakultas Ekonomi Universitas Brawijaya. Sempat bekerja untuk Harian Warta Bali, 2003 - 2005, Koresponden Majalah GATRA untuk wilayah Bali, anggota redaksi Media HIV/AIDS dan Narkoba KULKUL, TPI, dan Koran Seputar Indonesia. Menulis lepas kini menjadi aktivitas keseharian. Kini aktif sebagai kontributor untuk beberapa media yakni Bali Daily-The Jakarta Post, Mongabay Indonesia, dan Khabat Southeast Asia.
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