PLDT, Smart aim for Open RAN adoption in PH

Telecommunications company PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and its wireless subsidiary, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), are highlighting the advantages of harnessing Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN) to enhance technology accessibility in the Philippines.

During the recent Future of Connectivity with Open RAN and Open Networks forum hosted by the Asia Open RAN Academy (AORA) last month, PLDT shared insights gained from testing the country’s inaugural Open RAN proof of concept (PoC) earlier this year.

“Given the numerous opportunities presented by Open RAN, innovation will be pivotal,” said Arvin Siena, VP and head for Network Strategy and Planning, PLDT and Smart. “AORA envisions increased involvement in the Philippines, fostering the development of platforms, services, and applications for this technology.”

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Open RAN holds the potential to enable telecom companies to seamlessly integrate hardware and software from various vendors. This is achieved by disaggregating the different elements of the radio network using open-source software and versatile hardware. The benefits of Open RAN include cost savings for telcos, enhanced operational flexibility, and agility for operators, as well as the creation of a more intelligent and efficient network. These factors collectively pave the way for an optimal customer experience and the delivery of innovative services.

Opportunities for local developers

Established in 2022, AORA functions as a coalition of academic, governmental, and industry stakeholders operating in the Philippines and the broader Indo-Pacific region. Its mission is to advance an open, interoperable, dependable, and secure internet alongside a vibrant digital ecosystem.

“Our existing systems and processes have relied on technology that we have utilized for many years,” Siena said. “Embracing Open RAN necessitates substantial changes in infrastructure design, organizational structure, and the requisite knowledge, skill sets, and competencies of our workforce. This evolution will lead our network toward a future-proof architecture.” 

Siena underscored the potential opportunities for the local developer community that Open RAN can unlock. He highlighted that the Philippines has not focused extensively on creating applications for telecom companies, resulting in the utilization of software developed in other countries to facilitate call and data flows.

“Imagine the possibilities if Filipino developers create applications tailored for local mobile networks to operate on domestic infrastructure,” he said.

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