Connect with us


U.S. Window of Opportunity for Open Radio Access Networks is Closing, Say Panelists



Photo of Diane Rinaldo from Open RAN Policy Coalition

February 24, 2021—Some experts suggest that the future of wireless connectivity is in open radio access networks, but the window of opportunity for the U.S. to lead the way in this endeavor is closing.

Radio access networks comprise physical pieces of equipment – such as antennae or other hardware – that facilitates communication between user equipment and a network.

Open RAN is a movement to standardize those components for more companies to compete—as opposed to concentrating those components in a handful of large companies that own proprietary components—to increase competition and deliver better products, prices, and services.

Flynn Rico-Johnson, legislative director in the office of Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., was a panelist for a discussion about open RAN at the Connect X policy summit on Tuesday.

He said for the U.S. to remain competitive in this effort, the federal government would need to take funding development and deployment of open RAN more seriously.

“We want to see [this funding] in the president’s budget—we think we’ve got a great shot for an infrastructure package.”

Rico-Johnson added that while the U.S. needs to begin to take these steps, other countries have already been moving in the right direction.

“Europe is moving forward—Germany has made clear investment goals in Open RAN,” he said. “If the U.S. doesn’t make aggressive moves early, we’ll fall behind.”

This sentiment was shared by Rico-Johnson’s fellow panelist Diane Rinaldo, the executive director for the Open RAN Policy Coalition, which is made up of 48 members including Verizon, Nvidia, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and many other companies at the forefront of technology and innovation.

Diane Rinaldo was a guest on the Broadband Breakfast Live Online event in October 2020 about national security and trusted partners. See “Global Concern About 5G Security Has Become a Bipartisan Cause, Say Broadband Breakfast Panelists,” Broadband Breakfast, November 17, 2020

“Time is of the essence,” Rinaldo said. “If we want to incorporate Open RAN [into our infrastructure], we need to act.”

Rinaldo argued that Open RAN is going to be the future of RAN regardless of what action the U.S. decides to take, but it will be the decisions that U.S. policy makers make in the upcoming months and years that determine whether the U.S. will be leading the pack or trailing behind it.

“A big part of the conversation is international cooperation and collaboration,” Rinaldo said. “President Biden has said he wants to build international collaboration around the world.”

She explained that while working to deploy ORAN technology in the U.S. and in other first-world countries is an avenue that the current administration could exploit, the U.S. should also look to developing nations that they can assist in modernizing their broadband infrastructure.

Thierry Maupilé, executive vice president and chief of strategy and product management at Altiostar, said that as a technological hegemon, it is expected for the U.S. to pioneer ORAN. Headded if the U.S. wants to be able to compete with foreign countries, it needs to be able to implement ORAN technology.

“[The U.S. needs] to create an environment platform, which is going to make it much easier, much more attractive for investment to come in,” Maupilé said. “And that’s one of the major benefits that we see with this Open RAN.”

Reporter Ben Kahn is a graduate of University of Baltimore and the National Journalism Center. His work has appeared in Washington Jewish Week and The Center Square, among other publications. He he covered almost every beat at Broadband Breakfast.


NTIA Confirms Licensed-by-Rule May Apply for BEAD Funding

The move is a win for wireless providers, who have been pushing the NTIA on the issue.



Photo of telecom towers by Andrew Hart.

WASHINGTON, November 17, 2023 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has moved to confirm some wireless technology will be included in its $42.5 billion broadband grant program. 

The agency clarified it will define fixed wireless broadband provided through “licensed-by-rule” spectrum as reliable. That makes providers using that spectrum eligible for funding if fiber is too expensive, and protects them from overbuilding by other projects under the program.

The move is a win for wireless providers, who have been pushing the NTIA to move on the issue since it released the notice of funding opportunity for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program in 2022.

When the BEAD guidelines were first published, they only marked broadband provided via licensed spectrum – frequency bands designated by the Federal Communications Commission for use by a single provider – as reliable broadband. 

That meant areas receiving broadband through only unlicensed spectrum – bands set aside for shared use – would be open for BEAD-funded projects from other providers. This is still the case under the clarified rules.

The original guidelines would also put systems like the Citizens Broadband Radio Service in a gray zone. The CBRS uses a tiered license system, with government users, priority license holders, and general users sharing 150 megahertz of spectrum. Each tier gets preference over the one below it, meaning a general access user cannot, for example, interfere with a government system.

Some broadband providers use that spectrum on a general access basis to provide internet service. They were initially marked in the FCC’s broadband data with the same code as fully licensed spectrum, 71. But when the FCC added in January a new technology code specific to licensed-by-rule spectrum, 72, it became unclear how the technology would be treated by the BEAD program.

The NTIA cleared up any confusion on November 9, issuing an updated version of its FAQs specifying the new technology code would be treated as reliable broadband, and thus both eligible for BEAD dollars and protected from overbuilding. 

The agencies did not go so far as to comment on the merits of the technology, though, saying in its new FAQ section that it would treat licensed-by-rule as reliable because it was originally classified under 71, with fully licensed spectrum.

Continue Reading


The High Cost of Fiber is Leading States to Explore Other Technologies

If the state chose to solely install fiber, underserved communities would be left out, said state broadband leaders.



Photo of Sandeep Taxali of New Mexico, Kaiti Saunders of Verizon, Edyn Rolls of Oklahoma and Brian Newby of North Dakota (left to right)

WASHINGTON, November 17, 2023— The high cost of fiber installation has led states to pursue hybrid fiber models to ensure rural and underserved communities have access to the internet.

Speaking at the U.S. Broadband Summit here on Thursday, state broadband officials expanded on the challenges they face in ensuring broadband deployment.

Sandeep Taxali, broadband program advisor with the New Mexico Office of Broadband Access, said that New Mexico’s $745 million allocation under the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program falls short of the $1.3 to 2.5 billion that the state would need for full fiber deployment.

If the state chose to solely install fiber, underserved communities would be left out, he said.

“We want to lead with fiber but we also recognize that advanced fixed wireless and hybrid fixed wireless and fiber and satellite have a seat at the table for the very high cost remote areas where fiber is just going to not allow us to get the mission done,” Taxali said.

Jade Piros, director of Kansas Office of Broadband Development said her state is likely chosing to do 75% fiber model and 25% other technologies. Uncertainty of the cost from broadband providers make it difficult to have a standard cost calculation.

“We have to get everybody connected, and that’s why we require a lot of flexibility in shifting our expectations and the willingness to work closely with providers and be responsive to what they’re telling us,” Piros said.

Edyn Rolls, director of broadband strategy at the Oklahoma Broadband Office, expressed optimism that all of the underserved residents in her state would be reached, despite having what she said was an estimated $500 million shortfall.

“We will find the technologies that are going to be less expensive and achieve the needed model,” Rolls said. “We are trying to reach universal access. That is the goal.”

Connect20 Summit

Continue Reading


Biden Administration Announces Plan to Free Up Spectrum

The NTIA will study repurposing 2,786 MHz of spectrum in the next two years.



Photo of the White House by Radek Kucharski.

WASHINGTON, November 13, 2023 – The Joe Biden administration announced on Monday a new plan for freeing up and managing wireless spectrum as private sector demand grows.

The White House’s plan calls for a two-year study on potentially repurposing five spectrum bands, a total of 2,786 megahertz. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the agency that led development on the plan, is set to conduct the study.

That push for reallocation is driven by growing demand from the private sector, the plan said. Growing technologies like 5G networks, precision agriculture, satellites, and Wi-Fi-connected devices are all hungry for the finite airwaves.

Bands slated for more immediate evaluation are the lower 3 GHz band, 5030-5091 MHz, 7125-8400 MHz, 18.1-18.6 GHz, and 37-37.6 GHz. Those are currently occupied entirely or partly by incumbents like the Department of Defense and other “mission critical” federal operations.

Industry groups support freeing up additional spectrum. Meredith Attwell Baker, president of CTIA, the trade group representing large telecom companies, applauded the plan in a statement, calling it a “critical first step” to that end.

Called the National Spectrum Strategy, the administration’s plan also set the stage for more long-term changes to spectrum planning and allocation.

The White House will develop a new process for that allocation, according to the strategy document. The process will be aimed at increasing communication between government and private sector stakeholders in those decisions. 

Currently, the NTIA allocates spectrum for federal users, while the Federal Communications Commission handles spectrum for non-federal purposes. The agencies do coordinate, but the White House is aiming for a more unified process.

“Simply put, the United States needs a better and more consistent process for bringing the public and private sectors together to work through the difficult issues surrounding access to spectrum, including dynamic forms of spectrum sharing,” the strategy reads.

The plan calls for a new evidence-based methodology to help make those decisions, which the White House will develop.

Also in the strategy is a plan to set up designated areas for testing dynamic spectrum sharing and other spectrum research, and a workforce development plan.

Continue Reading

Signup for Broadband Breakfast News

Broadband Breakfast Research Partner