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US government bets $42 million on open cellular networks

The U.S. government has committed $42 million to continue development of the 5G Open RAN (O-RAN) standard that would allow wireless service providers to mix and match cellular hardware and software, opening up a more market extensive for third-party equipment, cheaper and interoperable. . The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) grant would establish an O-RAN testing center in Dallas to prove the standard’s viability as a way to stave off Huawei’s steady cruise toward a global network hardware monopoly cellular.

Verizon’s president of global network and technology, Joe Russo, promoted the funding as a way to achieve “faster innovation in an open environment.” To achieve the standard’s goals, Robert Soni, AT&T’s vice president of RAN technology, said AT&T and Verizon formed the Compatibility and Commercialization Acceleration Consortium for Open RAN Deployments ( ACCoRD), which includes a group of wireless technology companies like Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Dell, Intel, Broadcom and Rakuten.

Japanese wireless operator Rakuten was established as the first O-RAN network in 2020. Tareq Amin, the company’s then CEO, said: The edgeNilay Patel’s 2022, which argued that Open RAN would enable low-cost networks to be built using smaller equipment rather than massive towers – something that has long been part of the promise of 5G.

But O-RAN is much more than that; establishing interoperability means companies like Verizon and AT&T wouldn’t have to buy all their hardware from a single company to create a working network. For the rest of us, that means faster developments and “more agile networks,” according to Rakuten.

In the United States, Dish is working on its own O-RAN network, under the name Project Genesis. The 5G network was fragile and unreliable when the old one Edge Employee Mitchell Clarke tried it in Las Vegas in 2022, but the company said in June last year that it had reached its goal of covering 70% of the US population. Dish, however, has struggled to become the next big cell phone provider in the United States — leading satellite communications company EchoStar, which spun off from Dish in 2008, bought the company in January.

All of this constitutes a united front against Huawei’s domination of global cellular equipment and infrastructure. The Washington Post writes that O-RAN “is Washington’s designated champion in an attempt to unseat Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies” as the world’s largest provider of cellular infrastructure equipment. THE Job points out that Biden has made O-RAN a priority discussion point with world leaders in recent years, and that Congress and the NTIA have allocated approximately $2 billion for advancement of the standard.

This $42 million grant is a drop in the bucket compared to all that, but creating a testing center is a key step in the process; this creates a space in which ACCoRD partners can establish that the standard can work and gain buy-in from other major players around the world. THE Job notes that Ericsson and AT&T made big commitments in December, with a five-year, $14 billion deal to equip most or – in Ericsson’s case – all of their hardware with O-RAN compatibility over the next two years, giving the standard some momentum.

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