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Smart successfully tests Open RAN RIC in the Philippines

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Smart Communications successfully tested a fully functional Open Radio Access Network RAN Intelligent Controller (Open RAN RIC) proof of concept, in partnership with NTT DOCOMO, INC., at the PLDT-Smart Technology Innovation Center (Technolab) in Makati City.

Open RAN RIC technology allows the network to leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) to optimize radio access network performance and enable new services for customers.

Smart is the first in the Philippines to test this technology, which featured various use cases involving actual Smart services, such as voice calls, YouTube, mobile gaming, video streaming, and video calls, among others.

The demo also showcased the openness of Open RAN RIC and its potential to enhance network operations while lowering cost, using a combination of equipment from various vendors with NTT DOCOMO’s OREX* RAN and OREX SMO (Service Management & Orchestration) frameworks.

Smart tested several intelligent applications, such as traffic steering, power consumption optimization, and auto handover policy optimization, using open software called xApps and rApps, which are designed to run on the RAN platform regardless of vendor affinity.

Smart, NTT Docomo

“With our successful test of the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) at the PLDT-Smart Technolab, we are more confident that Open RAN will bring value by making our network more intelligent and efficient. This is a major milestone in future-proofing our network by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning in our radio access network and making it ready for future new services to our customers,” said Eric Santiago, FVP and Head of Network at PLDT and Smart.

“The potential of intelligent power optimization of Open RAN cell sites through the use of RIC rApps also positions us to reach our sustainability goals for our future networks,” Santiago added.

PLDT also foresees that the rollout of Open RAN RIC among operators in the Philippines could create a new industry in the country.

“If we roll out Open RAN RIC in the Philippines, Filipino IT and software developers can invent and develop software for the Philippine telecom industry. This in turn will enable mobile operators like Smart to localize the software supply, and potentially boost the country’s economy,” said Arvin Siena, VP and Head of Network Strategy and Transformation office at PLDT and Smart.

PLDT and Smart’s initiatives to enhance their networks through new technologies are aligned with the Group’s commitment to the Government’s overall digitalization thrust to narrow the digital divide as one of the founding members of the government-mandated Presidential Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) under the Digital Infrastructure Pillar.

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