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Indonesian conglomerate to begin optical fiber infrastructure project

JAKARTA -- Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas Group will be taking on a government telecommunications infrastructure project in the island nation's eastern provinces.

A consortium of companies, which includes the group's telecommunications arm, will be installing about 8,000km of optical fiber cables to link islands in the eastern part of the archipelago.

The project cost is roughly 5 trillion rupiah ($378 million). Sinar Mas is looking to further expand investments in the fast-growing Indonesian telecommunications market.

The conglomerate's telecommunications subsidiary formed a joint venture with local communications network companies for the construction efforts. It looks to complete financing for the operation and begin construction by the end of September. The goal is to complete the project within two years.

The project awarded to the consortium is part of a nationwide cable-laying initiative called Palapa Ring, which aims to connect all islands in Indonesia with optical fiber cables. The conglomerate is in charge of the eastern segment and will connect provinces such as West Papua and East Nusa Tenggara.

Indonesia has seen a rapid surge in the number of smartphone users, but development in telecommunications infrastructure has lagged behind outside of major cities. The Palapa Ring project began in the 1990s, but was derailed by the Asian currency crisis. President Joko Widodo's government revived the project after making private-sector investments easier in the country.

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