The US Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo, last week announced the formal launch of the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, which will invest $1.5 billion in the development of open and interoperable networks.

This investment is funded by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, with investment arriving as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s 'Investing in America' agenda, which aims to foster competition and strengthen supply chain resilience.

– Wikimedia Commons

This funding will be used to spearhead the deployment of open and interoperable 5G radio access networks in the US, and comes after the US government previously pledged to provide $1.5 billion to help support rural carriers replace Huawei equipment and drive Open RAN adoption in the country.

"The Innovation Fund is a critical step toward securing 5G wireless networks while driving innovation at home and abroad," said Raimondo.

"Investing in the next generation of innovation will unlock opportunities for new and emerging companies to compete in the global telecom market, strengthen our telecom supply chains and provide our allies and friends with trusted choices and innovative technologies to compete in the 21st Century. We look forward to bringing the best of industry, academia, and the public together to deliver on this initiative."

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) noted that one of the first aims of the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is to 'expand and improve testing to demonstrate the viability of new approaches to wireless like Open RAN and remove barriers to adoption.'

According to the NTIA, it expects to allocate up to $140.5 million during this first round of grants towards a range of R&D and testing activities to assess and facilitate the interoperability, performance, and/or security of open and interoperable standards-based 5G radio access networks.

"The Innovation Fund will help us transition to an open approach to 5G and future-gen networks," said assistant secretary of commerce, Alan Davidson. "With the investments from this initiative, the US can help facilitate much-needed competition in the global wireless market and create a more resilient and secure wireless supply chain."

Grants from the NOFO are anticipated to be awarded by August, says the NTIA, while eligible applicants have until June 2 to apply for these grants.

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