Administration Launches $1.5B Telecom Supply Chain Fund

The administration launched a Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund. It will invest $1.5 billion in the development of open and interoperable networks to strengthen and diversify supply chain resilience.

The effort is funded by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The administration says it will demonstrate the viability of new, open-architecture approaches to wireless networks. “This initial round of funding will help ensure that the future of 5G and next-gen wireless technology is built by the U.S. and its global allies and partners – not vendors from nations that threaten our national security,” says the administration.  

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced the formal launch of the fund, which she called “a critical step toward securing 5G wireless networks” while spurring innovation here and abroad. “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,” said Raimondo. “We look forward to bringing the best of industry, academia, and the public together to deliver on this initiative.”  

The Innovation Fund’s first Notice of Funding Opportunity aims to expand and improve testing to demonstrate the viability of new approaches to wireless like Open Radio Access Networks and remove barriers to adoption. NTIA anticipates it will award up to $140.5 million during this first tranche of grants. The first round of awards will provide for a range of R&D and testing activities in this critical field, including: 

  • Expanding industry-accepted testing and evaluation activities to assess and facilitate the interoperability, performance, and/or security of open and interoperable, standards-based 5G radio access networks; and 
  • Developing new or improved testing methodologies to test, evaluate, and validate the interoperability, performance, and/or security of these networks, including their component parts. 

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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