The US government makes a $42 million bet on open cell networks

A stylized image of a 5G cell tower.
Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

The US government has committed $42 million to further the development of the 5G Open RAN (O-RAN) standard that would allow wireless providers to mix and match cellular hardware and software, opening up a bigger market for third-party equipment that’s cheaper and interoperable. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) grant would establish a Dallas O-RAN testing center to prove the standard’s viability as a way to head off Huawei’s steady cruise toward a global cellular network hardware monopoly.

Verizon global network and technology president Joe Russo promoted the funding as a way to achieve “faster innovation in an open environment.” To achieve the standard’s goals, AT&T vice president of RAN technology R...

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