Published in Network

US splurges €39 million on 5G plan to stop Huawei

by on13 February 2024

Because competition is not capitalism

The US government has forked out €39 million to boost the development of the 5G Open RAN (O-RAN) standard that it thinks will let wireless providers mix and match mobile gear and software, opening up a bigger market for cheaper and compatible kit.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) grant would set up a Dallas O-RAN testing centre to show the standard's potential as a way to stop Huawei's steady march towards a global mobile network hardware monopoly.

Verizon bigwig Joe Russo praised the funding as a way to achieve "faster innovation in an open environment."

To reach the standard's goals, AT&T honcho Robert Soni says that AT&T and Verizon have teamed up to form the Acceleration of Compatibility and Commercialisation for Open RAN Deployments Consortium (ACCoRD), which includes a bunch of wireless tech firms like Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Dell, Intel, Broadcom, and Rakuten. Japanese mobile carrier Rakuten launched as the first O-RAN network in 2020.

For those who came in late, Open RAN would enable low-cost network roll-outs using smaller kit rather than massive towers -- which has long been part of the promise of 5G. Creating compatibility means firms like Verizon and AT&T wouldn't be forced to buy all their gear from a single firm to make a working network.

For consumers, it means faster roll-outs and "more agile networks."

In the US, Dish has been working on its own O-RAN network, under the name Project Genesis.

The 5G network was dodgy and unreliable when it was shown off in Las Vegas in 2022, but the firm said in June last year that it had reached its goal of covering 70 per cent of the US population.

Dish has struggled to become the next big mobile provider in the US, though -- leading satellite communications firm EchoStar, which split from Dish in 2008, to buy the firm in January.

The Washington Post writes that O-RAN "is Washington's chosen champion to try to topple the Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies" as the world's biggest supplier of mobile infrastructure gear.

According to the Post, Biden has stressed the importance of O-RAN in chats with international leaders over the past few years. It also notes that Congress and the NTIA have dedicated about €1.9 billion to support the development of this standard.

Last modified on 13 February 2024
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