The House on Nov. 17 approved by voice vote a bill that would provide $750 million of Federal funding grants to support the deployment of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) 5G wireless networks in the United States.
Open RAN networks – which have the expressed support of some of the world’s largest tech companies and wireless service providers – move away from the traditional model of wireless networks in which hardware and software are provided by one manufacturer as part of a closed proprietary solution at RAN cell sites. Instead, Open RAN networks aim to diversify the component elements in the RAN, which proponents say will create further competition among suppliers, innovation, and diversification of supply chains.
The bill approved by the House – HR 6624, the “Utilizing Strategic Allied Telecommunications Act of 2020” – was introduced in April by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and voted out of the committee in July.
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) legislation pending in the Senate includes a much smaller funding measure to support Open RAN networks.
Also on Nov. 17, the House by voice vote approved HR 7310, the Spectrum Modernization Act of 2020. The bill would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to report to Congress its plans to update IT systems used to manage wireless spectrum controlled by the Federal government.
A Senate companion bill to HR 7310 also is included in the Senate NDAA.
Commenting on the Nov. 17 House votes, Rep. Pallone and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said, the bills “will create a better, safer communications network for us all.”