Once upon a time, and not so long ago, if a tourist anywhere in the world wanted to communicate with family, they would have to cough up the coins to make a costly international phone call on a landline in a hotel lobby.
Then came the internet cafes where, for a cost, tourists could send emails or even make a Skype call. Nowadays, communicating with someone on the other side of the world is seamless. And things in Bali are about to get even easier.
The Bali Provincial Government will be installing free WiFi at 2,307 points across the island. The investment in digital infrastructure is first and foremost to support local communities, but the leveling up on technology will have plenty of benefits for tourists too.
The Head of the Bali Province Communication, Information and Statistics Service, Gede Pramana, confirmed that the free WiFi points will be installed across all nine regencies on the island, with a view for there being a WiFi hub in every village on the island as soon as possible.
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Pramana said, “The installation of free internet or WiFi has been carried out since 2018 and we are continuing to improve it. We want to make things easier for people because now everything is digital. So, we want to make it easy for people to access existing information.”
It is not only the increase in WiFi points that is great news for people in Bali. The Provincial Government is also committing to improving WiFi speeds across the island.
The Government is happy that the WiFi rollout scheme is entering its next phase. They see it as an opportunity to improve the local economy.
With more people able to access the internet, local business owners can tap into new markets and residents can feel better connected and informed about what is happening in the community.
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Pranama also took the announcement as an opportunity to remind the public about the dangers of spreading fake news.
He hopes that as more of Bali becomes internet savvy, the community will become more discerning about what they consume online.
He explained, “Don’t use the internet to spread hoaxes and people must be careful using the internet because there are positive and negative aspects.”
He wants to see the ever-increasing village and community-based tourism initiatives in Bali using the free WiFi to help promote their attractions and experience on social media and tourism websites.
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In the wake of the pandemic, many small communities in Bali are working to establish their own tourism programs. These tourism programmers offer visitors the chance to connect with an authentic part of Bali.
Tourists can get to visit lesser-known waterfalls, dive deeper into learning about Balinese Hinduism and local culture, enjoy hyperlocal cooking classes with all locally sourced ingredients, stay in unique locations and accommodations and so much more.
With smaller villages having free access to the internet we can expect to see lots more promotion of incredible and yet-to-be-discovered adventures all across Bali.
Pranama confirmed that the WiFi rollout is a way the government is supporting local communities in the tourism sector with free marketing and promotional support.
The free community WiFi is just one of many ways for tourists to stay connected in Bali. Tourist SIM cards are readily available at the airport and telecom shops in busy tourist areas and more rural destinations.
Most cafes, restaurants, guesthouses, hotels, and even big tourist attractions also have free WiFi available for customers and visitors.
The WiFi connection is also a vital resource for the government to connect with constituents. Pranama said that he hopes “We also want to collaborate with [all kinds of] public service providers so that they can take part too. Don’t just do business but also provide information to the public.”
Pranama assured that the WiFi points will be monitored and that the Special Financial Assistance (BKK) finding from the central government is being distributed by the provincial government to the regencies and banjars as previously agreed.
The close eyes on the WiFi rollout scheme mean that it should stay up and running for the long term, with support on hand if the connection goes down.
He concluded, “We monitor the installation carried out by districts/cities. What is clear is that every year the Bali Provincial Government provides BKK funds to districts and cities. District and City Governments throughout Bali also install tools to monitor where the internet is down or experiencing other problems.”
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