Supply Chain

The U.S. Commerce Department has begun accepting applications for funding in the $1.5 billion Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund.

The fund will provide money for development of open and interoperable networks. Applications are due by June 2.

The Innovation Funds proceeds come from the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The money will be used to “drive wireless innovation, encourage competition and strengthen the wireless supply chain,” according to a press release.

The goal, Commerce said, it to help ensure that U.S. firms and partners, rather than vendors from nations that threaten national security, will build 5G and next-gen wireless technology used in the U.S. The reference to offshore vendors undoubtedly is a reference to Huawei and other vendors that have been deemed to be a security risk and whose equipment is being purged from U.S. communications networks.

The Innovation Fund’s first Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), released this week, enables applicants to seek a portion of the $140.5 million that will be awarded in the first tranche of grants. The awards will be made in August.

The funds will be used to:

  • Develop new or improved testing methodologies to test, evaluate, and validate the interoperability, performance, and/or security of wireless networks.
  • Expand testing and evaluation activities determine and implement the interoperability, performance, and/or security of open and interoperable, standards-based 5G radio access networks.

Future funding rounds will build on the foundation established by the first funding round, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The goal is to build upon the foundational work of this first NOFO, creating an ecosystem for wireless innovation built by the U.S. and its global allies. 

“The Innovation Fund is a critical step toward securing 5G wireless networks while driving innovation at home and abroad,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo said in a prepared statement.

“Investing in the next generation of innovation will unlock opportunities for new and emerging companies to compete in the global telecom market, strengthen our telecom supply chains and provide our allies and friends with trusted choices and innovative technologies to compete in the 21st Century.  We look forward to bringing the best of industry, academia, and the public together to deliver on this initiative.” 

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