The US government has committed $42 million to continue development of the 5G Open RAN (O-RAN) standard that will allow wireless providers to mix and match cellular hardware and software, opening up a larger market for third- party equipment that is cheaper and interoperable. . The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) grant will build a Dallas O-RAN testing center to prove the agility of the standard as a way to stave off Huawei’s steady cruise toward a global cellular network hardware monopoly.
Verizon’s president of network and technology Joe Russo promoted the funding as a way to achieve “faster innovation in an open environment.” To achieve the goals of the standard, AT&T vice president of RAN technology Robert Soni said that AT&T and Verizon formed the Acceleration of Compatibility and Commercialization for Open RAN Deployments Consortium (ACCoRD), which includes in a grab bag of wireless technology companies like Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Dell, Intel, Broadcom, and Rakuten.
Japanese wireless carrier Rakuten has formed as the first O-RAN network in 2020. The company’s then CEO, Tareq Amin, said The Vergeby Nilay Patel in 2022 that Open RAN will enable low-cost network build-outs using smaller equipment instead of large towers – which has long been part of the promise of 5G.
But O-RAN is more than that; Establishing interoperability means that companies like Verizon and AT&T are not forced to buy all their hardware from one company to create a functional network. For the rest of us, that means faster builds and “more agile networks,” according to Rakuten.
In the US, Dish is working on its own O-RAN network, under the name Project Genesis. The 5G network was creaky and unreliable at first Verge Staff member Mitchell Clarke tested it in Las Vegas in 2022, but the company said in June last year that they had achieved the goal of covering 70 percent of the US population. Dish is struggling to become the next big cell provider in the US, however – leading satellite communications company EchoStar, which spun out of Dish in 2008, to buy the company in January.
All of this adds up to a united front against Huawei’s dominance of global cellular equipment and infrastructure. The Washington Post wrote that O-RAN “is Washington’s anointed champion to try to unseat Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies” as the world’s largest supplier of cellular infrastructure gear. the Post It was pointed out that Biden has made O-RAN a priority point of discussion among global leaders in recent years, and that Congress and the NTIA have allocated about $2 billion for the development of the standard.
This $42 million grant is a drop in the bucket compared to all that, but building a testing center is an important step in the process; it creates an arena where ACCoRD partners can establish that the standard can work and get the buy-in of other major players around the world. the Post says Ericsson and AT&T made major commitments in December, with a $14 billion, five-year contract to have most or — in Ericsson’s case — all of their hardware with O-RAN compatibility within the next which is two years, giving the pattern some strong momentum.