Initiating technology and manufacturing partnerships to empower the local ecosystem
Riding on the momentum of Open RAN in the mobile network industry, Comba Telecom, member of Telecom Infra Project’s ("TIP") Open RAN Project Group, joined the ecosystem partners and industry colleagues to introduce thoughts and plans at the launch of the 1st TIP Community LAB in South East Asia and the 14th globally at the Telkom University in Indonesia in the middle of December 2020.
Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy covering around 48% of the region’s 600 million population. As per GSMA, the potential for the digital economy in Indonesia is enormous, even though with the rollout of 3G and 4G networks by mobile carriers, about 61 million Indonesians still don’t have access to the Internet . Given a largely untapped digital economy, there are certainly rewards if there is a properly managed roadmap.
The aim of the first TIP Community Lab in Southeast Asia is to build a local ecosystem which can support the development and implementation of innovative and cost-effective platforms for Indonesian operators. It is important to accelerate public-private partnerships between local manufacturers and international Open RAN vendors to work together on domestic-focused technology or pilot programs. For example, exploring local manufacturing options in support of Making Indonesia 4.0; and setting up a local intelligence center for professional services and maintenances. In academia, encouraging technology exchange on advanced wireless technology such as 5G and Open RAN with universities or technical institutions is critical to nurture local startups for future development and contributions.
Network deployment in Indonesia can be challenging due to the vast and varied landscapes. However, Open RAN and other elements of the disaggregated ecosystem are attractive because of the price promise. The benefits might not be realized immediately, but long-term Open RAN promises a lot.
Most open network technologies, products, and solutions are still in the development or trial phase, but once the hardware and the software are disaggregated and components made interchangeable rather than just interoperable, Open RAN is certainly an appealing prospect for Indonesia as a whole. The flexibility is going to have a significant impact not only on the consumer but also on the enterprise offerings that operators have.
With the setup of the TIP Community Lab and a Center of Excellence at the ICT-focused Telkom University, there is considerable excitement for a technology that could have a major influence on the telecommunications industry in the Asia Pacific, and on the Indonesian digital economy in particular. The TIP Community Lab will help accelerate the network modernization in Indonesia and also Southeast Asia regions with the promising Open RAN technologies and services provided by the TIP project group.
 “The Mobile Economy Asia Pacific”, GSMA, 2020 https://www.gsma.com/mobileeconomy/asiapacific/