Internet in Bali

Here’s an update on some of things happening in the internet access scene in Bali. Remember the nonsense I had to go through with XL (you don’t need a phone line, you need a phone line, you don’t need a phone line)? well I eventually managed to borrow someone’s phone bill and head on over to the XL office on the Sunset Rd. Everything looked set to go until the staff noticed the phone bill was for June. In order for me registration to proceed I had to have the most recent phone bill, which would of been August.

After waiting for the latest bill from the guy who lent the June bill, I decided to call a friend in Canggu who I know has DSL. He agreed to meet me at his office and lend me his phone bill. This afternoon we rode over to his office and the secretary went through all his receipts, only to find September’s bill hasn’t been issued yet and August’s bill has gone AWOL. Back at his place he was relentless, calling up friends who might have a phone bill. We got hold of a mixed couple who do have a phone line, he (from England), willing to meet me, her from Indonesia saying it was ‘suspicious’. My friend and I rode over to their house, for my ‘interview’ as to why I need to borrow a stranger’s phone bill. They were very nice, but uncomfortable. “Maybe we can get the XL office on the phone and prove they require a phone in order to sign someone up for internet access.” I said. “Yeah let’s do that.” said the husband.

During this whole process, the guy tells me he has recently signed up with IndoSat, the ISP who used to quote prices of $1,000 per month for high speed access in 2003. He said he uses a little gizmo, and without much fuss was online in a couple of days. “Let’s give them a call.” I said. Speaking to the sales rep over the phone I learned that they didn’t need a phone bill! They did however ask for my passport, KITAS, a sponsor letter from my employer and my bank account details. “What does getting home internet access have to do with my visa, employer and bank account? I said. “Its on the form so you have to give it.” said the staff. “Okay, what if I told you I have a million dollars, am retired and get my money from an ATM machine, would that satisfy you?” I asked. “No” she said “you have to have sponsor letter from your employer.” (everyone living in Bali has an employer?). During this process I once again felt like I was trapped inside some kind of Indonesian Alice in Wonderland, where everything is reversed, the employee is king and the customer comes last, idiocy rules and logic counts for nothing. Then I came to my senses…this is just everyday life in Bali. The friend who took me to these people’s house said ” Why don’t you get your wife to sign up for you.” BINGO!!! All assembled agreed this was the go. Ninety % of the bullshit in Bali is reserved for the ‘bules‘ and if you have a local apply for you, its way easier. All the nonsense about foreign bank accounts, KITAS, business sponsor etc. disappear when a local applies. If all goes well I should have a decent home internet connection very soon, through my 3G phone!

For Bali visitors using internet cafes, the speed recently has been awful, due most likely to the route chaos in north America (a lot of the top sites route traffic from N. America).