AT&T Partners with Ericsson on OpenRAN, FCC Extends Engineering Waiver, New COO at Atlas Digital Group

AT&T is pushing for more interoperability of equipment on its wireless network.

AT&T Partners with Ericsson on OpenRAN, FCC Extends Engineering Waiver, New COO at Atlas Digital Group
Photo of Ericsson 5G factory in Texas.

December 6, 2023 – AT&T announced Monday a partnership with Swedish mobile wireless equipment maker Ericsson to build out its open radio access network to get ahead of the race to allow the networks to work with various equipment suppliers.

The five-year contract with Ericsson could see AT&T spend roughly $14 billion and eventually see 70 percent of its wireless network traffic travel over open platforms by late 2026.

Beginning in 2025, AT&T said it will be coordinating with multiple suppliers on the development of the Open RAN ecosystem, including Intel, Dell, Corning, and Fujitsu.

“AT&T’s and Ericsson’s multiyear joint commitment to Open RAN deployment comes at a pivotal moment in the 5G innovation cycle,” the telecom said in a press release. “This move to an open, agile, programmable wireless network positions AT&T to quickly capitalize on the next generation of wireless technology and spectrum when it becomes available.

“These innovative technologies will enable lower-power, sustainable networks with higher performance to deliver enhanced user experiences,” it added. “Ericsson’s open architecture will provide a foundation and springboard for developers driving innovation through open and programmable networks and bringing new suppliers into the industry. This will foster modernization and competition in the U.S. wireless equipment market.”

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the head of the Federal Communications Commission have said that open RAN deployments would allow network owners to move away from proprietary technologies to diversify the supply chain and reduce security risks.

The NTIA is currently in the midst of distributing money from the $1.5-billion Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, which is intended to help telecoms transition to open, interoperable wireless networks.

Ericsson plans to use the 5G smart factory in Lewisville, Texas to provide equipment to the project.

FCC extends waiver to allow the use of non-professional certified engineers

The Federal Communications Commission filed an order Thursday extending the use of a waiver that permits telecommunication companies to use non-professional certified engineers to sign off on broadband data collection.

The use of the waiver was set to expire on September 15th of this year for broadband data recorded as of June 30th 2023, but now will extend for three more filing periods to be used for data collected up to December 31, 2024.

The FCC reasoned that extending the use of the waiver “strikes an appropriate balance by giving providers limited relief from the PE requirement, on the condition that they are able to expeditiously provide to the Commission, when requested, underlying network information that supports their availability data.”

Industry associations USTelecom and the Competitive Carriers Association filed a petition in August to extend for three filing periods the use of a waiver that does not require provider’s broadband data filings to be verified by a licensed professional engineer. They argued that requiring sign-off from a licensed professional engineer would burden smaller providers.

The FCC put in place a rule requiring mapping data to be signed off by a certified engineer and a corporate officer, but would accept a single signature sign off if the signatory could qualify both of those positions.

In 2020 Congress passed the Broadband DATA Act, which required the FCC to create a new set of rules to regulate how biannual broadband service data was collected and distributed. As a part of that act, service providers were required to submit verification from a “corporate officer” that any data they had collected was accurate.

Atlas Digital Group appoints new COO

Atlas Digital Group, an e-commerce company serving the broadband industry, announced Monday that Chad Neuhaus will be taking on a new role as the company’s chief operating officer.

Neuhaus will manage the implementation of operational strategies, promoting quality control across deliverables and working with senior management members to work on continued development strategy, explained a press release.

“I’m ready to contribute to an outstanding team and help the company achieve even stronger performance as we roar into 2024,” said Neuhaus.

Prior to joining Atlas Digital Group, Neuhaus served for 23 years in various roles at telecommunications companies, including Altice and AT&T, a press release said.