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Issue 8: Historical Overview - Palapa Satellites re: PT TELKOM

The Journey of TelKom in Operating Communications Satellites to Serve the Indonesian Archipelago

Tonda Priyanto

Download the full english version of the paper in PDF (4.8 MB)

This paper is available in Bahasa Indonesia

1. Background

In 1976, Indonesia became the 3rd nation in the world operating a Domestic Satellite Communication System using GSO Satellites, the PALAPA A system. This satellite system provided telephony and facsimile services between cities in Indonesia and became the main TV program distribution infrastructure.

TELKOM* has been operating satellite communication networks for almost 30 years, TELKOM has experienced technology improvements, value added service improvements and also changes in regulations. Nowadays, TELKOM operates 2 satellites, PALAPA B4 and TELKOM-1, for telephony trunking for cellular systems and as data and Internet backbone throughout Indonesia. This paper is intended to describe the journey of TELKOM in operating its satellites and satellite network, earth stations, services and business aspects.

2. TELKOM's Satellite Development

TELKOM satellites were originally designed for domestic communications as they were intended for unifying Indonesia. The satellites had to cover all islands of Indonesia including East Indonesia to encourage development in the intended regions. The launch of TELKOM's satellites is shown in Tables 1. The satellite specifications shown in Table 2. The adoption of this mode of communication followed closely satellite technology developments itself and evolved in line with domestic and regional market demand. As can be seen, the capacity and transmission power (EIRP - Effective Isotropic Radiated Power) has been increasing and also the coverage. The increased power is an effort to reduce the link-cost including earth station costs and the cost of opening new markets.

Name Date of Launch End of Op. Orbital Slot Launcher Manufac.
PALAPA A1 9 Jul 76 1983 83° E Delta 2914 HS-333 Hughes
PALAPA A2 11 Mar 77 1987 77° E Delta 2914 HS-333 Hughes
PALAPA B1 16 Jun 83 1990 108° E STS-7 HS-376 Hughes
PALAPA B2 26 Feb 84   Failed STS-11 HS-376 Hughes
PALAPA B2P 21 Mar 87 1996 113° E Delta 6925 HS-376 Hughes
PALAPA B2R 14 Apr 90 2000 108° E Delta 6925 HS-376 Hughes
PALAPA B4 14 May 92 2005 118° E Delta 7925 HS-376 Hughes
TELKOM 1 13 Aug 99 2016 108° E Ariane 4 A2100A Lockheed Martin
TELKOM 2 End of 2004   108° E Ariane 5 Starbus 2 - Orbital
Table 1. TELKOM's Satellites

Name Manufac. No. of Trans-ponders Weight Kg Power Watt Peak EIRP dB
PALAPA A1 HS-333 Hughes 12 ST.C 297 NA 33
PALAPA A2 HS-333 Hughes 12 ST.C 297 NA 33
PALAPA B1 HS-376 Hughes 24 ST.C 1475 936 36
PALAPA B2 HS-376 Hughes 24 ST.C 1475 936 36
PALAPA B2P HS-376 Hughes 24 ST.C 1475 936 36
PALAPA B2R HS-376 Hughes 24 ST.C 1475 936 36
PALAPA B4 HS-376 Hughes 24 ST.C 1475 936 36
TELKOM 1 A2100A Lockheed Martin 24 ST.C + 12 Ext.C 1761 5233 42
TELKOM 2 Starbus 2 - Orbital 24 ST.C 879 3100 42
Table 2. TELKOM's Satellite Specifications

The First Generation - PALAPA-A

PALAPA A-1, launched on 8 July 1976 was successfully loaded with traffic from 40 earth stations spread all over Indonesia. A remote earth station and TELKOM's master control station is shown in Figure 1. Six of its 12 transponders were loaded with telephony traffic and 1 transponder by the national television program, while the 5 remaining were for backup.

On 11 March 1977, PALAPA -A2, located at orbital slot 77 degrees East Longitude, was launched from the Kennedy Space centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA for back up and ready to be operated in the event PALAPA-A1 experienced a failure or when the demand could not be accommodated by PALAPA-A1.

Second Generation - PALAPA-B

As the end of life of PALAPA-A1 and A2 were in 1983 and 1984 respectively, planning to replace the PALAPA A satellites began in 1979 to maintain the operations of the PALAPA system. The requirements of the second generation satellites was based on estimated domestic telecommunication needs, i.e. PERUMTEL (now PT TELKOM), TVRI (broadcaster), for government use and needs of ASEAN countries based on the ASEAN technical and economical experts Working Group in 1978.

The coverage as well as technical capability were increased: where PALAPA A1 was for the Indonesian territory only, PALAPA B was able to cover the entire ASEAN region. In terms of capacity, PALAPA B capacity was increased to 24 transponders, 2-fold that of PALAPA A. PALAPA Bs were placed in a new and better location: 108 degE, 103 degE and 118 degE, in order to minimize interference.

PALAPA B1 was launched in June 1983 using the US-based Space Transportation System (STS) Challenger and was successfully put into orbital slot 108 degE. PALAPA B1 was intended for internal use by PERUMTEL. PALAPA B2 was not successfully injected into orbit as it had a perigee kick motor problem. For replacing PALAPA B2, PALAPA B2P was immediately manufactured and launched in March 1987. This satellite was used for 3rd party leases (domestic and overseas). PALAPA B2P was located at 113 degE.

The PALAPA B2 satellite was recovered by a special operation of a space shuttle flight and repaired. The re-launch of PALAPA B2 (named B2R) took place in 1990 to replace PALAPA B1. The PALAPA B1 satellite was sold to PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN) for its "inclined satellite" business.

As the market grew, in 1992 TELKOM launched PALAPA B4 which is located 118 deg.E to also accommodate the continuous growth of satellite circuit demand in the ASEAN region.

Third Generation - TELCOM 1-2

As the PALAPA B2R service would be ended by 1999, in 1995 TELKOM formed a team to study the technical and business aspects for a new satellite generation. This study team came up with the suggestion that TELKOM should expand the satellite capacity to fulfill the very high potential demand for cellular trunking (especially TELKOMSEL's demand, which was growing quite fast at that time) and also to serve VSATs for Internet use. Therefore, the TELKOM-1 satellite (as the new generation satelllite is called), is designed especially for multi carrier use, so that the capacity could double compared to the PALAPA B2R for low bit rate VSATs.

To replace PALAPA B4, TELKOM is again improving the earlier generation satellite's coverage to include Guam and as far as India and its neigbouring countries to respond to the market of regional networks - TELKOM-2. The changes of coverage can be seen in Figure-2.

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Fig. 2. Coverage of PALAPA A, PALAPA B, TELKOM-1 and TELKOM-2

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