The US government has awarded a $42 million grant to support the 5G Open RAN (O-RAN) standard, aiming to allow wireless providers to mix and match cellular hardware and software. The grant is set to establish a Dallas O-RAN testing center to test the standard’s viability, opposing Huawei’s dominance in cellular network hardware. Verizon and AT&T have already formed the Acceleration of Compatibility and Commercialization for Open RAN Deployments Consortium (ACCoRD) to achieve these goals, which includes companies like Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Dell, Intel, Broadcom, and Rakuten.
This grant funding aims to achieve faster innovation in an open environment, as stated by Verizon’s global network and technology president, Joe Russo. The establishment of interoperability will lead to faster build-outs and more agile networks, benefiting companies like Verizon and AT&T. Additionally, Dish has been working on its own O-RAN network, but has faced challenges in becoming a major cell provider in the US. The $42 million grant for the O-RAN standard, although relatively small compared to the overall funding, is a significant step in establishing the testing center and gaining the buy-in of major players across the world.
The development of the 5G Open RAN (O-RAN) standard in the US is widely seen as a strategy to counter Huawei’s domination of global cellular equipment and infrastructure. President Biden has made O-RAN a priority point of discussion with global leaders and significant funding has been allocated for its advancement. Although the $42 million grant is relatively small in comparison, it is a crucial step to create an arena to establish the standard’s viability and gain momentum from big commitments made by companies like Ericsson and AT&T.