Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison checks out Nokia for 4G/5G

Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison (IOH) has signed a three-year deal with Nokia to expand 4G coverage and pave the way for 5G in spectrum-constrained Indonesia.

Named as "principal vendor" in the network expansion program, Nokia will provide the "latest" kit from its Airscale portfolio. According to the official announcement, Nokia's equipment will cover an area of 1.4 million square kilometers including Sumatra island, Kalimantan island, Central Java and Surabaya city.

Nokia promises a 'smooth integration' by merging spectrum owned by IOH into a single network.
 (Source: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash)
Nokia promises a "smooth integration" by merging spectrum owned by IOH into a single network.
(Source: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash)

The idea, it seems, is to deploy basestations that can be software-upgraded to 5G. Nokia said roll out of its ReefShark-powered AirScale portfolio, including basestations and 5G Single RAN for both indoor and outdoor coverage, will start this month. Nokia also promises a "smooth integration" by merging spectrum owned by IOH into a single network so "ensuring minimum impact to end-users."

Moreover, if all goes to plan, IOH will be able to "quickly and easily" upgrade to 5G services remotely with a software update or with a plug-in card.

Consolidation's what you need

IOH is the product of a $6 billion merger of the respective Indonesian business interests of Ooredoo Group and CK Hutchison. It gained regulatory approval in January. The merged entity has approximately 110 million subscribers and $3 billion in annual revenue. The partners said it will deliver $300 million to $400 million in pre-tax synergies over the first three to five years.

XL Axiata and Smartfren, the two smallest players in the market, have reportedly been in merger discussions. Telkomsel is the largest mobile operator in the country with over 160 million subscribers.

Ooredoo likes Nokia

Ooredoo Group and Nokia signed off an extended strategic partnership last November. Part of the new deal was a Group Framework Supply Agreement (GFSA) whereby Nokia will deploy RAN, core and transport equipment – as well as provide technical support for various digital services – across the group's ten operating companies in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia.

The new GFSA, valid for five years, includes the rollout of Nokia's AirScale radio platform on sites across North Africa and Southeast Asia. AirScale offers 5G services to consumers and enterprises across different spectrum bands.

Aside from AirScale, Nokia said it will provide cloud-native core software "to give Ooredoo zero-touch automation capabilities that will drive greater scale and reliability."

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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