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FCC chief to open inquiry into promoting open RAN

FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel plans to open an inquiry on how the agency might promote open RAN technology.

February 23, 2021

2 Min Read

WASHINGTON, DC – FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel today shared with her colleagues a proposal to open a formal discussion on Open Radio Access Networks—sometimes called Open RAN—the opportunities they present, and what the FCC should be doing to promote the concept. If adopted at the Commission's March 17 Open Meeting, this Notice of Inquiry would seek comment on the current status of Open RAN development and deployment, whether and how the FCC might foster its success, and how to support competitiveness and new entrant access to this emerging market.

"Open RAN has emerged as one promising path to drive 5G security and innovation in the United States," said Rosenworcel. "With this inquiry, we will start to compile a record about how we can secure our vulnerable supply chains once and for all, and revitalize the nation's 5G leadership and innovation."

The Notice of Inquiry, if adopted, would seek comment on the current status of Open RAN development and deployment in American networks and abroad. It asks about the role of established large manufacturers and of new entrants in setting standards for this new network architecture. It seeks input on what steps should be taken by the FCC, federal partners, industry, academia, or others to accelerate the timeline for Open RAN standards development. Further, it seeks comment on any challenges or other considerations related to the deployment, integration, and testing of systems based on Open RAN specifications. The NOI also requests comment on the costs and benefits associated with Open RAN development and deployment.

Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel has been an early advocate for American engagement and leadership in Open RAN. In 2019, she raised the issue in her speech to Mobile World Congress. She dove still deeper into the issue in remarks made at the FCC Forum on 5G Open Radio Access Networks held in September 2020.

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