Indosat Ooredoo detailed plans to collaborate with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and GSMA to run the first field trials on OpenRAN technology in Asia, with the goal of lowering the cost of providing internet service, particularly to rural areas.

The operator plans to start the trials this month, with one test to be carried out at a universal service obligation (USO) base station site located in one of the least-developed regions of Indonesia. With the support of the GSMA, it is evaluating potential sites.

Vikram Sinha, director and COO of Indosat Ooredoo, told Mobile World Live standardising the design and functionality of hardware and software reduces the cost of providing internet and voice services, which will help drive digital growth in the country.

He said its collaboration with TIP will help it get its cost structure right. “There are islands in Indonesia where we need to make sure the internet is available and affordable to everyone.”

Neutral lab
Indosat Ooredoo also committed to working with the wider industry in Indonesia to set up the first TIP Community Lab in Southeast Asia over the next three to six months. The aim is to build a local ecosystem which can support the development and deployment of innovative and cost-effective platforms for Indonesian operators.

The lab will be a neutral host platform for the country’s telecoms community and TIP members to validate and test interoperability of the project’s services against operator requirements, TIP said in a statement.

Attilio Zani, executive director, said because the lab is not hosted by any individual organisation, feedback can be disseminated around the region and world.

He noted while the cost reductions through the collaboration can be significant, ranging from between 15 per cent and 20 per cent to as high as 40 per cent, it is important to look at the speed to service and the flexibility in the network.

Zani explained once the hardware and the software are disaggregated and components made interchangeable rather than just interoperable, there is an opportunity to play with the software and take advantage of the hardware capabilities to greater effect over their lifetimes.

“I think that flexibility is going to have a significant impact not only on direct to consumer but also enterprise offerings that operators have as well.”

In terms of interest in Asia, Zani said it already had a number of organisations around the region looking very closely at the activity it is doing in Indonesia.

Julian Gorman, head of Asia Pacific for GSMA, added Indonesia was an attractive choice because of its large population, projections it will be a top-five global economy in the near future, advanced level of mobile technology adoption by consumers, and significant entrepreneur base.

“Operators in Indonesia are taking a lead in driving digital transformation…This is also an important move for the APAC region and promises to be a reference for other operators to explore network technology innovation for increased diversity, security and flexibility in their supply chain”.