People's Power on The Liberation of 2.4GHz band

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Onno W. Purbo


This is a more than one and a half decade of struggle to seek of low cost broadband (>1Mbps) Internet access in Indonesia starting 1993. Low cost broadband Internet access is everyone's dream. Furthermore, free telephony access will be the next dream.

In the past before the year 2000:

  • 64Kbps leased line via chopper cable priced at US$400 / month.
  • Frequency license for 2.4GHz was US$2000 / year / link
  • Internet was popular as it was introduced to public in 1995 . But not many people knows how build the low cost broadband Internet access

Thus, there are two (2) main problems

  • Wireless network would be a logical alternative. Unfortunately, frequency license was too expensive.
  • Spreading the knowhow on how to build low cost broadband Internet access.

The final objectives

  • Unlicensed wireless infrastructure.
  • Self-finance by the communities as we cannot rely on the government / public infrastructure.


In the early days, 1993-1998 several attempts for low cost Internet access was tried, such as, Starting early 1992, use packet radio network in 150MHz at 1200bps without frequency license. It connected a couple of dozen educational institutions. It created a hundred of early TCP/IP techies in Indonesia. Around 1996, Institute of Technology in Bandung (ITB) was getting VSAT connection via JCSAT & WIDE Project in Japan at 1.5Mbps. It was the highest speed Internet in Indonesia at that time. It pushed the need for high speed local access.

1996-1998, Karlbridge from the US running at 2Mbps using 915MHz was illegally deployed. Several big universities is connected. BTW, 915MHz is the cellular frequency in Indonesia. In 1998. Several attempt for seizing the Karlbridge equipment was done by the military / national force. Onno W. Purbo the man behind all the trouble was called by the Directorate General Post & Telecommunication. Jail was fairly close to Onno W. Purbo. Finally, we agreed on moving to different frequency band.


Around 1998, we moved the broadband links to 2.4GHz. Using early Karlbridge equipment running at 2Mbps cost US$1000 / karlbridge. Again, without any license as it cost US$2000 / link / year.

The rebel needs to change their battle strategies. Guerrilla tactics via mass illegal use of the frequency would be more difficult to turn down.

Starting around 1998, with Computer Network Research Group at ITB, write books, articles on how to build low cost broadband Internet access. A lot of invitations to gave demo, workshops, etc. since then sponsored by many vendor such as Corexindo, Planet Indonesia and work closely with Michael Sunggiardi in organizing wireless roadshow to many cities.

The Technology is no longer confined in education and research network environment. It loose into public! Lots early cybercafes, ISP, corporate network in Indonesia was adopting the low cost broadband Wireless access at 2.4GHz.


As lots of people starting to illegally use the 2.4GHz. Indonesians buy the idea of low cost Internet access using wireless access.

In 1999, a significant number of sweeping by police for illegal 2.4GHz was apparent. Many people decide to bribe (many have to do monthly bribe) the police rather than loosing their equipment. It becomes a money generating source for the Indonesian police :( ...

In 2000, Onno W. Purbo was the advisor to Directorate General of Post and Telecommunication at that time. Seeing a lot of the comrade's equipments being seized, he submitted a letter to quit and will never put a step into the DG Office until the problem resolved. He never step into the DG office since then for the next five (5) years. It creates a problem for the DG as they have to face the communities in open public space outside their office which is very dangerous.

More workshops, seminars, media articles etc. were done at a rate of 2-3 seminars / workshops / week self-finance by the Indonesians to fulfill their curiosity as media coverage increases. At that time millions of Indonesian depends their access on 2.4GHz. The War apparent between power vs. people.


In 2003, the first World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), IDRC and CERN inviting Onno W. Purbo to participate and give talk at WSIS.

In 2003-2005, a significant number of invitation funded by IDRC to Onno W. Purbo to give workshop & talk in South Africa, Harvard, Bhutan, Canada, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos etc.

In 2005, the second WSIS, IDRC again invite Onno W. Purbo into the International lights. All international activities well report in the Indonesian media, especially, the Indonesian main on-line media. It creates a strong image that “International communities are acknowledging the practical Indonesian way in getting low cost broadband access”.

It consequently creates a huge pressure in the Indonesian public towards the Indonesian government.


By the end of 2004, the pressure within the country especially with the help by IDRC and international communities becoming too high.

Finally, 5 January 2005, Hatta Rajasa the ministry of transportation signed the Ministry Act that liberating 2.4GHz in Indonesia.


We currently see,

  • 2000-3000 installation of outdoor WiFi equipments per month.
  • Several companies in Indonesia is now making 2.4GHz antenna and equipments.
  • It becoming one of the main infrastructure for connecting more than 15.000 Indonesian schools to the Internet.

& Many invention in appropriate & low cost wireless technology, such as, bazooka antenna, wokbolic, flat antenna and many others. Innovation is flourishing.

Now, Indonesian feels confidence to developed their own WiMAX technology and infrastructure as the demand for wireless network is high.

In short, the economy is good. The technology and innovation is flourishing. It is all very much demand driven.

The next decade episode will on the struggle to liberate telephony infrastructure as VoIP Rakyat the largest Indonesian VoIP free Softswitch is funded by Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF). It currently increases the capacity of VoIP Rakyat to Xeon 18 core and the main Indonesian ENUM Server at Feel free to download the softswitch from

So stay tune :) ...

Pranala Menarik