The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 Passes the U.S. Senate

The U.S. Senate

The current landscape of 5G is one of optimism but there are still significant challenges ahead for the wireless industry as a whole. These challenges, specifically when it comes to testing and supply chain-related issues, were amplified and increased in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the wireless industry continued to push and is now receiving a much-welcomed boost from the government. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 was passed by the Senate and will secure critical funding that will fuel production, innovation, policies, and more.

Many in the industry wanted to see this come to fruition. The Open RAN Policy Coalition is filled with carriers and vendors who all live and breathe wireless. A recent push for Open RAN continues to move along industry-wide and thanks to this act, those activities should get even stronger. There are many notable members including the likes of AT&T and Verizon, but DISH Wireless, the newest major wireless provider, is possibly the most excited about the move.

“This important legislation will support U.S. ingenuity for years to come, including new wireless network technologies that DISH is eager to bring to life for the American people. The critical funding to promote and deploy Open RAN innovation from Senator Warner and Senator Rubio’s USA Telecommunications Act will spur American job creation, diversify the telecom equipment supply chain, enhance network security and boost our nation’s efforts to lead the global race to 5G (and beyond),” said Jeff Blum, DISH’s Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs.

DISH Wireless will be hoping that the next move is handled quickly by the government. The act will now make its way to the House of Representatives. The measure will allow American firms to develop more chipsets, a sector hindered by ongoing health and political obstacles, as well as compete and win in a global market against the likes of China and others. $500 million will be allocated for a joint program bringing together semiconductors and Open RAN.

“The Open RAN Policy Coalition applauds the U.S. Senate for its passage of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), legislation that recognizes the importance of Open RAN in establishing supply chain resiliency and supporting innovation. 5G supply chain security has implications not only for telecom policy but also for economic policy and economic security,” said Diane Rinaldo, the Executive Director for the coalition in a statement.

Additional provisions were also involved including the Endless Frontier Act and providing the NTIA with $50 million for a testbed to fuel American participation and leadership in open network technology and applications. Another provision is asking for emergency supplemental appropriations to begin using the USA Telecommunications Act which was authorized in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This would provide $1.5 billion for a Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund managed by the NTIA with assistance from the DHS, IARPA, NIST, and others. The goal here is to push more innovation and open-architecture technologies that revolve around software for the American broadband industry.

Source: Fierce Wireless