The PAWR Project Office (PPO) filed a response to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA’s) request for comment on the implementation of the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund.
In the Matter of:
Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund Implementation – Docket No. 221202-0260, RIN 0693-XC05
Despite a number of successful ongoing Open RAN deployments worldwide, the Open RAN ecosystem is still under development. To unlock the full potential of Open RAN for 5G, Beyond 5G, and 6G, additional resources are needed to make it easier for more players (e.g., equipment suppliers, network integrators) to participate in both basic and applied research and development, and to deliver innovations that meet the greatest challenges of next-generation wireless connectivity.
The PPO recommends funding the following initiatives.
- An at-scale, multi-vendor Open RAN test and development platform – leveraging prior investments made through the NSF PAWR program and other testbed initiatives, but with funding to support Open RAN equipment and personnel needs – that allows US innovators to demonstrate Open RAN viability through badging and certification, prove system integration capabilities, and develop new features and functions within an Open RAN architecture. This platform may span multiple locations.
- A neutral organizational entity in charge of working with industry and academic researchers to formulate research, testing, and data collection challenges that are then funded and executed through the test and development platform.
- A grant program to subsidize usage of the test and development platform for smaller organizations, non-traditional vendors, and academic innovators that might otherwise not have the resources to participate in necessary Open RAN R&D.
- A grant program to create US university-led graduate and certificate programs for workforce development to support Open RAN and related wireless fields of study.
- Funding to support open source software development and/or reference architectures that will lower the barrier to entry for both academic and commercial groups pursuing Open RAN innovation and prototyping.