Because competition is not capitalism
The US government has spent €39 million to boost the development of the 5G Open RAN (O-RAN) standard, which it says will allow wireless service providers to mix and match mobile equipment and software, thus opening a larger market for cheaper and compatible kits.
The grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) would create an O-RAN testing center in Dallas to show the standard’s potential as a way to stop Huawei’s steady march toward a global monopoly in mobile network hardware .
Verizon bigwig Joe Russo hailed the funding as a way to achieve “faster innovation in an open environment.”
To achieve the standard’s goals, AT&T CEO Robert Soni says AT&T and Verizon have partnered to form 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 mobile operator Rakuten launched as the first O-RAN network in 2020.
For those who came late, Open RAN would enable low-cost networks to be deployed using smaller kits rather than massive towers – something that has long been part of the promise of 5G. Creating compatibility means companies like Verizon and AT&T wouldn’t have to buy all their equipment from one company to create a working network.
For consumers, this means faster deployments and “more agile networks.”
In the United States, Dish is working on its own O-RAN network, under the name Project Genesis.
The 5G network was questionable and unreliable when it was demonstrated 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.
The Washington Post writes that O-RAN “is Washington’s chosen champion in its bid to unseat Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies” as the world’s largest provider of mobile infrastructure equipment.
According to the Post, Biden has emphasized the importance of O-RAN in discussions with international leaders in recent years. He also notes that Congress and the NTIA have dedicated approximately €1.9 billion to support the development of this standard.