OpenRAN gets a boost in Indonesia

Alongside the Indonesian Government, the GSMA and local MNOs, the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) has christened a new collaboration to validate open network technologies.

While it has been one of the years major trends, the development of open network ecosystems is still very much in its early days, with no technologies, products or solutions validated against open standards. Some might argue the open movement has been given a disproportionate amount of hype for current milestones achieved, but this is an important step forward in one of the world’s most promising digital economies.

Today’s announcement is the first stage of launching an industry-wide effort to make open, disaggregated networks a reality.

“Finishing ICT infrastructure has become a common problem faced by developing countries,” said Dr Ismail, Director General of Kominfo, the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. “This problem becomes more difficult to overcome by countries with geographical challenges like mountains or archipelago as well as scattered rural populations.”

Network deployment in countries like Indonesia is a tough job as Ismail has highlighted. Not only do the MNOs have to deal with vast, varied landscapes, the commercial realities bite very hard with low ARPU. However, with a largely untapped digital economy, there are certainly rewards should the roadmap be managed correctly.

OpenRAN and other elements of the disaggregated ecosystem are attractive to developing nations because of the price promise. The benefits might not be realised immediately, but long-term OpenRAN promises a lot. However, this reality is a considerable number of steps away; first and foremost the technology has to be market ready.

This collaboration between the Government, TIP, the GSMA and local MNOs will aim to create a local ecosystem which can offer a more attractive deployment strategy. Not only will the community lab and centre of excellence aim to validate the technologies for local network deployment, the team will hope to expediate the process of shifting from the lab to the field, train local integrators and set up workshops to keep the ecosystem informed.

OpenRAN is certainly an exciting prospect for the industry, and while it can offer a boost for developing nations, it is always worth remembering the technology does not work yet. Nothing has been validated against the standards championed by the ORAN Alliance. These tests might happen this year, but there is still excitement for a technology which could have a major influence on the telecoms industry and wider digital economy.

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