Mavenir: Time for Open RAN Mandates

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Mavenir, a U.S.-headquartered 5G network service provider that supports advancing Open Radio Access Networks (OpenRAN) technology, is partnering with satco DISH Network to help build a cloud-based 5G wireless network. Texas-based Mavenir says the federal government needs to offer more support for deploying 5G wireless through OpenRAN, a software rather than hardware-based approach that does not rely on equipment from traditional vendors like Nokia, Ericsson or even Huawei.  

While Washington has done a good job of blocking untrusted vendors from 5G networks, it needs to focus on something else to promote 5G deployment-fostering U.S. based vendors as global leaders in mobile infrastructure, says Mavenir SVP Business Development John Baker. Policymakers have been well-intentioned in their efforts to safeguard American networks and boost U.S. providers, Baker notes.

“But a crucial step in fixing any problem is recognizing the necessary scope of the solution, so let me say it unabashedly: If we want to diversify the 5G supply chain and have U.S.-headquartered vendors building the technology that powers next-generation networks, we must take direct and unequivocal action to build a market that prioritizes and incentivizes the use of U.S. suppliers domestically and abroad,” he writes in a blog.

“As competing nations around the world are building their 5G networks, countries in South America, Asia and Europe are unapologetically implementing their own aggressive policies that prefer local suppliers,” says Baker.

“If we want a more robust mobile ecosystem where U.S.-headquartered companies lead the world in 5G, then we must be willing to give them a leg up,” according to Baker. He calls OpenRAN a modern approach to mobile networking that’s based on open interfaces, creates lower costs, and gives mobile carriers more flexibility and vendor choice. 

Baker notes the FCC at its meeting last week voted to build a record of support for OpenRAN. Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel declared that the country “must take action to speed up American innovation.” Congress too has taken steps to support the concept, including creating a grant program to advance deployments. “But that program remains unfunded,” he states.

Baker says the government should offer incentives like loan guarantees, grants, tax incentives, and demonstration sites that will help propel mobile carriers to pursue OpenRAN solutions beyond the trial phase.

He also stresses it’s time for government mandates. “We should require dominant legacy vendors to open their closed interfaces if they want to build networks with U.S. government money. It makes no sense to give American taxpayer dollars to two foreign-based companies so that they can continue to sell the same proprietary architecture. Failing to mandate open interfaces only serves to perpetuate foreign dominance in the U.S. market while hurting American companies trying to supplant them with OpenRAN.

The U.S. must also be willing to make its preference for OpenRAN known to mobile operators — doing so will help influence industry to more rapidly adopt them, according to the executive. Many U.S. carriers support OpenRAN in a general sense, however European telecoms have gone further, says Baker. “Five major European operators have gone as far as to sign a memorandum committing to put OpenRAN in their networks. American policymakers should encourage U.S. carriers to make the same pledge.

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