What started with the promise of vendor interoperability in open RAN is beginning to look more like business as usual for radio access networks.

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Kelsey Ziser, Mike Danoand 2 more

February 22, 2024

At a Glance

  • AT&T selects Ericsson as its only open RAN vendor (04:34)
  • Implications of the NTIA open RAN funding (10:02)
  • Just wait ten years and the industry will have open RAN figured out (OK, Mike, sure) (18:06)

The NTIA recently awarded $42 million toward open RAN testing to AT&T and Verizon, but the dream of open radio access networks is far from becoming a reality. What started with the promise of vendor interoperability is beginning to look more like business as usual. 

"At first, open RAN was about combining multiple vendors at the same mobile site to boost competition and cut dependency on a single supplier," reported Light Reading's Iain Morris. "Now it's presented as an insurance policy against lock-in, a get-out-of-jail-free card to justify a single RAN deal."

Notably, AT&T has selected Ericsson as a single vendor for open RAN, which conflicts with the original idea of a multi-vendor approach. 

"The industry's recent moves around open RAN prove that the profit-minded approach to building telecom networks is to stick with a few, large, market-dominant suppliers," reported Light Reading's Phil Harvey. "But the government continues to use taxpayer funds to fan the barely flickering flame of open networks in the US."

'Profit-minded approach'

Light Reading's Phil Harvey, Iain Morris and Mike Dano join the podcast to discuss the original goal of open RAN compared to recent moves by service providers to go all-in on one vendor. They also address the NTIA's distribution of open RAN testing funds and what that could mean for future open RAN deployments. 

*Editor's note: This podcast was recorded last week, which is when the NTIA distributed funding for open RAN testing.

For a lightly edited transcript, please click the caption button in the video toolbar. 

Here are a few topics we covered:

  • NTIA awards $42 million in funding to AT&T and Verizon for open RAN testing (02:07)

  • AT&T selects Ericsson as its only open RAN vendor (04:34)

  • Implications of the NTIA open RAN funding (10:02)

  • Just wait ten years and the industry will have open RAN figured out (OK, Mike, sure) (18:06)

About the Author(s)

Kelsey Ziser

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Kelsey is a senior editor at Light Reading, co-host of the Light Reading podcast, and host of the "What's the story?" podcast.

Her interest in the telecom world started with a PR position at Connect2 Communications, which led to a communications role at the FREEDM Systems Center, a smart grid research lab at N.C. State University. There, she orchestrated their webinar program across college campuses and covered research projects such as the center's smart solid-state transformer.

Kelsey enjoys reading four (or 12) books at once, watching movies about space travel, crafting and (hoarding) houseplants.

Kelsey is based in Raleigh, N.C.

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

Phil Harvey

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Phil Harvey has been a Light Reading writer and editor for more than 18 years combined. He began his second tour as the site's chief editor in April 2020.

His interest in speed and scale means he often covers optical networking and the foundational technologies powering the modern Internet.

Harvey covered networking, Internet infrastructure and dot-com mania in the late 90s for Silicon Valley magazines like UPSIDE and Red Herring before joining Light Reading (for the first time) in late 2000.

After moving to the Republic of Texas, Harvey spent eight years as a contributing tech writer for D CEO magazine, producing columns about tech advances in everything from supercomputing to cellphone recycling.

Harvey is an avid photographer and camera collector – if you accept that compulsive shopping and "collecting" are the same.

Iain Morris

International Editor, Light Reading

Iain Morris joined Light Reading as News Editor at the start of 2015 -- and we mean, right at the start. His friends and family were still singing Auld Lang Syne as Iain started sourcing New Year's Eve UK mobile network congestion statistics. Prior to boosting Light Reading's UK-based editorial team numbers (he is based in London, south of the river), Iain was a successful freelance writer and editor who had been covering the telecoms sector for the past 15 years. His work has appeared in publications including The Economist (classy!) and The Observer, besides a variety of trade and business journals. He was previously the lead telecoms analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit, and before that worked as a features editor at Telecommunications magazine. Iain started out in telecoms as an editor at consulting and market-research company Analysys (now Analysys Mason).

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