Wireless Antenna

As much as $420 million in funding will be made available to build the radio equipment needed to advance the adoption of more open and interoperable wireless networks in the U.S. and abroad, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced this week.

This marks the second Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) from the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund.

The radio units situated at the top of cell phone towers for transmitting and receiving signals are the largest and most expensive part of the carrier network, NTIA said. Commercial availability or radio units that are more open and interoperable is a key NTIA goal.

NTIA has already awarded more than $140 million to 17 grantees through the first NOFO. The first round of investments is supporting testing research and development, and the establishment of testing and evaluation facilities.

In the second NOFO, NTIA expects to award two types of grants — open radio unit commercialization grants and open radio unit innovation grants.

  • Open radio unit commercialization awards will be between $25 million and $45 million. They are intended to accelerate the development of open radio units to the point where they meet the needs of wireless carriers and are ready for commercial trials
  • Open radio unit innovation awards will be between $5 million and $10 million and are designed to improve the overall performance and capabilities of open radio units through targeted research and development.

The $1.5 billion Wireless Innovation Fund, which is the source of these funding rounds, is designed to drive wireless innovation, foster competition, and strengthen supply chain resilience.

“To secure our telecom supply chain, America and its allies need to build more innovative, affordable, and secure wireless equipment,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a prepared statement.

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