DISH awarded $50 million NTIA grant for Open RAN testing  


The grant is the largest award under the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund to date 

DISH Wireless, the wireless network service provider recently reunited with parent company EchoStar, has been awarded $50 million in funding from the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to launch an Open RAN testing centre. 

The centre, called the Open RAN Centre for Integration and Deployment (ORCID) and located at its Cheyenne Campus in Wyoming, will allow vendors from across the globe to test their hardware and software solutions on a complete commercial-grade Open RAN network deployed by DISH.  

The site will be supported by consortium partners Fujitsu, Mavenir, and VMware by Broadcom, and technology partners Analog Devices, ARM, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Intel, JMA Wireless, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Samsung.  

(ORCID) “will serve a critical role in strengthening the global Open RAN ecosystem and building the next generation of wireless networks,” said Charlie Ergen, EchoStar’s co-founder and chairman in a press release. 

The NTIA funding comes as part of the $1.5 billion Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund (itself funded by the much larger CHIPS and Science Act of 2022), which aims at supporting 5G technologies that are more open and interoperable – in short, advancing Open RAN technology.   

DISH’s $50 million constitutes the lion’s share of the latest funding allocation round from the project, which saw $80 million in total available to companies focussed on Open RAN testing. The remaining $30 million in grants were divided between VIAVI Solutions, Virginia Tech, Cirrus360, Northeastern University, and Rice University. The CHIPS and Science Act itself was signed by President Biden, with the aim of boosting American semiconductor research, development, and production, to ensure that the USA becomes a leader in the industry. Currently, the USA produces just 10% of the world’s chips, relying on East Asia for over 75% of production. 

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