US to evaluate OpenRAN hardware and software

June 10, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
US to evaluate OpenRAN hardware and software
The US government is to test out OpenRAN hardware and software for 5G networks to see how well different systems work together

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the US is looking at the detailed cost and interoperability of OpenRAN equipment for 4G and 5G private and public networks.

One of the advantages of the open radio access network (Open RAN) specification developed by the Telecom Infrastructure Project is to drive down the cost of different parts of the telecom network and allow smaller vendors to be part of 5G network rollout.   

The NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) has issued a directive, called a Broad Agency Announcement, to procure prototype and commercial-off-the-shelf Open RAN equipment and software as part of an effort to test state-of-the-art Open RAN technology.

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​The ITS in the US is seeking equipment used in Open RAN 4G and 5G networks, as well as Virtualized RAN (vRAN) software and RAN automation software. ITS will deploy the technology in its Communications Research and Innovation Network to evaluate performance, inter-vendor interoperability, and standard maturity compared with established RAN technologies.

“The development of open interfaces and vendor diversity are a significant part of NTIA’s overall vision for building out secure 5G networks,” said Evelyn Remaley, the acting NTIA Administrator. “This is an important step for testing the ability of these technologies to interoperate and scale, and to achieve a more secure and resilient global 5G supply chain.”

The procurement will look at COTS Open RAN Radio Units (RU), Distributed Units (DU), Central Units (CU), and combination units (e.g. CU/DU, RU/CU/DU, etc.) that are sold in substantial quantities in the commercial marketplace, as well as prototype equipment. It is also looking at COTS Open RAN Network Control and RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) Software.

Proposals are due by 6th July 2021.

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