AT&T-Verizon Consortium Secures $42.3 mn Grant to Propel Open RAN Innovation

Telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon have joined forces with a consortium of industry leaders in a significant push towards advancing Open RAN (Radio Access Network) technology.
Samsung Open RAN radiosThe consortium, spearheaded by AT&T and Verizon, has secured a grant of $42.3 million from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The funding, a part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, aims to accelerate the development of open and interoperable networks.

The consortium, dubbed the Acceleration of Compatibility and Commercialization for Open RAN Deployments (ACCoRD), boasts an impressive lineup of members. Alongside US-based telecoms such as AT&T and Verizon, Japanese telecom powerhouse NTT DOCOMO and India’s Reliance Jio stand as founding members, despite not receiving direct funding.

The focal point of ACCoRD’s efforts will be the establishment of an Open RAN Testing, Evaluation, and R&D Center in the Dallas area, with an additional satellite location in the Washington, D.C. area. This strategic setup aims to boost testing capabilities while identifying innovative methods to assess technologies beyond current standards. Performance and security will be paramount considerations, with academic partners playing a crucial role in evaluating these factors.

Robert Soni, VP – RAN Technology at AT&T, in a blog post, has expressed enthusiasm for the project, highlighting its potential to enhance Open RAN infrastructure on a global scale. Soni emphasized the consortium’s commitment to gathering input from diverse wireless providers to ensure widespread adoption and industry advancement.

Joe Russo, Executive Vice President & President of Global Network and Technology at Verizon, commended the collaborative effort, emphasizing the importance of innovation, interoperability, and supplier diversity in driving the evolution of telecommunications technology. Russo outlined the potential benefits of Open RAN, including deployment flexibility, faster innovation cycles, and increased competition, ultimately leading to enhanced services for consumers.

Sadayuki Abeta, Global Head of Open RAN Solutions and OREX Evangelist at NTT DOCOMO, expressed gratitude for the initiative, emphasizing its role in fostering truly open and interoperable mobile networks. Abeta highlighted DOCOMO’s extensive experience in multi-vendor RAN deployment and expressed confidence in the consortium’s ability to drive innovation in the Open RAN ecosystem.

Bob Pippert, Vice President of New Technology Development at Reliance Jio, echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and innovation in scaling the Open RAN ecosystem. Pippert underscored Jio’s commitment to collaborating with industry partners to create a highly secure and scalable Open RAN architecture.

The funding, totaling $42,299,693.72, will support the ACCoRD project, with contributions from a diverse array of suppliers including Microsoft, Nokia, Radisys, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Samsung, Mavenir, and Intel, among others.

Over the next decade, the Innovation Fund established by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 will invest $1.5 billion to further support the development of open and interoperable networks, marking a significant milestone in the advancement of telecommunications technology.