Open RAN is a new and disruptive technology that allows telcos to use different hardware and software components from various vendors, instead of relying on proprietary solutions from a single vendor. This makes the network more flexible, agile, intelligent, and efficient, which can improve customer experience and enable more innovative services.
Earlier this year, Smart was the first in the Philippines to successfully demonstrate Open RAN, which could help telcos save on cost and make their network more future-proof. PLDT and Smart shared their experience and insights at the Future of Connectivity with Open RAN and Open Networks forum held by the Asia Open RAN Academy (AORA) on July 20.
AORA is an alliance of academic, government, and industry stakeholders working to advance an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet and digital ecosystem in the Philippines and the Indo-Pacific region.
Arvin L. Siena, PLDT and Smart VP and Head for Network Strategy and Planning said that the Philippines is now among the leaders in Asia-Pacific in testing and exploring new technologies for telco networks.
“There used to be talk about the Philippines being behind in technology, but that is untrue. We are now among the leaders in Asia-Pacific in testing and exploring new technologies, particularly for telco networks,” Siena said.
He also emphasized the need for more innovation and upskilling as Open RAN presents many opportunities and challenges.
“As Open RAN presents many opportunities, innovation will be key. This is what AORA hopes for–that in the Philippines, more people will be involved in developing platforms, services, and applications for this technology,” Siena said.
He added that it is best to start early to overcome the challenges ahead, such as changing the way they design and organize their infrastructure, setting up their organizations, and enhancing the knowledge, skill set, and competencies of their people.
Siena also highlighted the potential for the local developer community to create applications for local mobile networks using Open RAN.
“The Philippines has not been focusing on developing applications for telcos, so the software we are using today in serving and enabling call flow and data flow are developed in other countries. Just imagine if developers in the Philippines work on applications for local mobile networks to run on local infrastructure. The opportunity for us is huge,” he said.
PLDT and Smart’s support for a more innovative culture in the Philippines are aligned with the focus areas of the government-mandated Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC)’s Digital Infrastructure pillar, which supports the government’s overall push for nationwide digitalization to narrow the digital divide.
These also reinforce PLDT’s commitment to its aspirational multi-year transformation, elevating customer experience as one of the key priorities.