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Facebook and Ericsson bump up Indonesian mobile network speeds

Adjustments to XL Axiata's DNS servers and redirecting traffic to nearby servers has increased mobile speeds in Indonesia using existing resources.
Written by AAP , Contributor and  Chris Duckett, Contributor

XL Axiata's mobile network in Indonesia has seen speed improvements of between 20 and 70 percent when using Facebook's Android app, after a six-month trial between Facebook and Ericsson to improve network performance.

According to a white paper (PDF) on the project produced by the Facebook-led Internet.org project, the changes made to the XL Axiata network could improve performance across the entire network, as well as Facebook mobile users.

"There is also now a replicable model for monitoring, analysing, measuring, and improving app coverage that can be applied to any mobile network, which will help operators cost effectively target network improvements for the most impact on user satisfaction, loyalty, and retention," the white paper said.

"The results show that it is possible to increase app coverage using existing network resources. This has the potential to benefit existing users globally, and is also key to helping the next 4 billion internet users get online — especially in rural areas with little to no data coverage — allowing them to reap the benefits of a connected world."

Changes made to the network included fixing parameter settings in the radio access network that made higher-end smartphones take "significantly longer" than the lower-end smartphone to upload photographs, and rerouting Facebook traffic to content-delivery networks closer to Indonesia.

During the trial, it was discovered that XL Axiata's DNS servers were under heavy load, and were resolving DNS queries within 10 to 30 seconds, while the content only took 0.5 to 3 seconds to load.

"This delay would render the user experience so bad that the app would appear to be not working," the white paper said.

Facebook and Ericsson said that "time to content" improved by up to 80 percent, with uploads improved by 50 percent.

The white paper said that 75 percent of Indonesians use 2G and EDGE networks, with half of all smartphone users having daily network issues.

Facebook and Ericcson have teamed up under the auspices of Internet.org previously, creating an innovation lab earlier this year to allow developers to simulate network conditions in developing nations.

In August, Internet.org launched an app in Zambia that provided access to a select number of online services for free, in an attempt to lift the country's internet penetration rate above 15 percent.

Zuckerberg in Indonesia for internet push

On his first visit to Facebook-crazy Indonesia, Mark Zuckerberg has met the president-elect, spread the word about his company's global internet-access initiative, and posted a photo of himself at an ancient Buddhist temple.

The Facebook CEO arrived on Sunday, when he climbed Borobudur temple in Central Java and posted a widely shared photo of himself atop its stupas on his Facebook page. On Monday, he met Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo, who used social media extensively in his campaign.

"It was a great conversation," Zuckerberg said. "One of the big priorities that he communicated was growing jobs and growing the economy. I think that growing the internet and connectivity is one of the best ways we can do that."

The 30-year-old billionaire is travelling to help advance the Facebook-led project Internet.org.

"We are trying to get free basic services and affordable access to the two thirds of [the world's] people who aren't on the internet," he said.

He added that while "obviously, we want a lot of people to connect and use Facebook ... Internet.org and connecting more people is not primarily to make money, especially in the near term".

Indonesia is the world's fourth-largest Facebook-using nation. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said that there are 69 million active Facebook users every month, and 61 million of them are on mobile devices.

But the majority of Indonesia's 252 million people do not have internet access.

When asked at a press conference about his experience using the internet in Indonesia, Zuckerberg said, "It works," generating laughs in a country where many complain about internet speeds.

"We hiked up this temple and it was beautiful and someone on our team ... took a photo on his phone and uploaded it right after, and it went quickly, and now that photo is in a lot of places," he said. "There are places where you travel around and you can't do basic things like that.

"That's obviously not the most important economic or cultural opportunity created by connectivity, but it was a good litmus test."

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