Open RAN Policy Coalition Executive Director Diane Rinaldo testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology today, in a hearing on “Leveraging American Communications Leadership with Open RAN Networks.” Her testimony focuses on the transformational role of open and interoperable solutions in the RAN, particularly as we navigate the evolution of 5G technology and prepare for 6G and beyond. Some key themes from today’s testimony include:
- The Wireless Innovation Fund of the CHIPS and Science Act was a landmark achievement, introducing grant programs to catalyze Open RAN initiatives. However, the allocation and deployment of these funds have not met the pace of innovation – of the $1.5 billion dollars allocated, only 6% has been distributed: 4% to businesses and only 0.01% to small businesses. To truly drive innovation, it is essential that these funds are fully deployed within the next two years.
- The undeniable truth is that we face global challenges to maintaining our competitive edge.While Open RAN reduces costs in hardware and software and creates the possibility to break vendor lock-in, heavy foreign investments tip the scales more than those cost savings can ever compete with. Simplifying and expediting the processes for our companies to compete effectively is necessary to shorten that funding gap.
- The Export-Import Bank (EXIM) and the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) must have more flexibility in financing wireless telecommunications projects, especially those promoting strategic security interests, including Open RAN. Our proposal is simple: if a trusted supplier is competing for a global project against, or proposing to “rip and replace” a company on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) “covered entity” list, EXIM and DFC would have the ability to waive certain statutory financial risk restrictions.
The journey of the Open RAN movement is a testament to innovation and opportunity. To maintain momentum, it is imperative that the funds allocated under the Wireless Innovation Fund be fully and promptly utilized. We must also adopt a holistic approach to counter global market distortions and ensure competitive parity for U.S. and allied vendors. The Coalition seeks not to reinvent the wheel but to ease the path forward, ensuring the continued evolution and success of the telecommunications industry.
A full copy of Rinaldo’s testimony is available for download here.