Open Radio Access Network Is Telecom's Next Big Thing

network operator, network ,operator

Network Operators Got $42.3 Million for Open RAN Their Testing Needs

The U.S. federal government has granted $42.3 million to a consortium of major telecom network operators and suppliers to make their Open Radio Access Network ambitions come true.

  • The collective includes Verizon, AT&T, Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, and Dell Technologies, among others.
  • The funding will be utilized to test and evaluate Open RAN hardware and software.
  • The ultimate goal is to refine standards, equipment, and interoperability across the industry.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has granted $42.3 million for the deployment of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) infrastructure in the U.S.

The NTIA has awarded the grant to the consortium of network operators and vendors, named the Acceleration of Compatibility and Commercialization for Open RAN Deployments (ACCoRD). ACCoRD includes major telecom operators like Verizon and AT&T, reputable traditional suppliers like Nokia and Ericsson, and alternative suppliers like Fujitsu.

Before we go any further, there are a couple of things you need to know. Open RAN is based on the concept of a cellular network architecture that has open interfaces and standardized components. This means that instead of an operator being stuck with a single vendor for every component, bolt, and screw, he can mix and match. Operators can then deploy more flexible, cost-effective, and interoperable networks.

The money, which is coming from Congress’s Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, is going to test and evaluate Open RAN hardware and software. The technology would drive interoperability and innovation in wireless networks.

So, with this grant, ACCoRD can refine standards, equipment, and interoperability.

ACCoRD is trying to establish an Open RAN Testing, Evaluation, and R&D Center, with a primary hub located in the Dallas area and a satellite facility in the Washington, D.C. region. It is at these centers that network operators and vendors can conduct industry-standard testing, identify new methods of assessing innovations, and evaluate various factors including performance and security.

The end goal? Refined standards across the industry, equipment, and interoperability.

Don’t think there isn’t something in it for you, though. Open RAN would allow operators to tailor the equipment to specific needs, leading to better coverage in rural and underserved areas. Open RAN architecture could also increase network speeds and responsiveness and decrease latencies. Besides, if a component were to break down or need an upgrade, the operator would have diverse vendor options. All this translates into enhanced network performance and potentially lower prices.

While Open Ran directly affects network infrastructure, it could also have indirect impacts on smartphones in the long run. The open RAN architecture would give operators the freedom to get creative in tailoring their networks to specific regions or use cases. And you know how there’s a market for almost every product out there. So, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that smartphone manufacturers would optimize their devices to fit those situations’ needs.

Then we have to consider how network capabilities limit what manufacturers can feature in their phones. They are bound by what’s realistically feasible. Otherwise, they would be making useless products. The improved network performance would give them enough wiggle room to get their creative juices flowing.

At the end of the day, Open RAN would make everyone’s lives easier and open doors to innovate. Who could be mad about that?

Inside Telecom provides you with an extensive list of content covering all aspects of the tech industry. Keep an eye on our Telecom sections to stay informed and up-to-date with our daily articles.