Wireless Cell Tower

Applicants have requested nearly $1.4 billion from the Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, according to the  Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). That’s ten times more than the funding available in this round.

Funding is intended to go toward to testing and research and development activities related to open and interoperable wireless networks

To date, NTIA has received 127 applications seeking financial assistance for these projects. Applicants requested $146 million for research and development projects, and $1.2 billion for testing and evaluation activities.

The agency will make up to $140.5 million available in this first round of funding from the $1.5 billion fund. Applications for the first round were due by June 2. The first awards will be made in August.

Specific ways the awards will be used include:

  • Expanding industry-approved testing and evaluation activities to assess and facilitate the interoperability, performance, and/or security of open and interoperable, standards-based 5G radio access networks
  • Developing new or improved ways to test, evaluate, and validate the interoperability, performance, and/or security of these networks, including their component parts.

The Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, which is part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, aims to broaden service providers’ infrastructure equipment options and to encourage an open framework approach to network equipment. It was triggered, in large part, by concerns about the security of wireless equipment from Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE.

“NTIA’s Innovation Fund will address the urgent need to increase the resilience, diversity and security of the wireless equipment market,” Alan Davidson, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a prepared statement. “The overwhelming interest in this first round of funding shows the private sector is stepping up to meet that need. These are the important first steps in this critical project to help us drive competition, strengthen our supply chain, and provide our allies additional trusted, innovative choices.”

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