Thirty-one global technology companies have launched the Open RAN Policy Coalition to promote policies that will advance the adoption of open and interoperable solutions in the radio access network (RAN), with the goal to create innovation, spur competition and expand the supply chain for advanced wireless technologies, including 5G.

Diane Rinaldo, executive director of the new organization, said “By promoting policies that standardize and develop open interfaces, we can ensure interoperability and security across different players and potentially lower the barrier to entry for new innovators.”

The founding members of the coalition are Airspan, Altiostar, AT&T, AWS, Cisco, CommScope, Dell, DISH Network, Facebook, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Intel, Juniper Networks, Mavenir, Microsoft, NEC Corporation, NewEdge Signal Solutions, NTT, Oracle, Parallel Wireless, Qualcomm, Rakuten Mobile, Samsung Electronics America, Telefónica, US Ignite, Verizon, VMWare, Vodafone, World Wide Technology and XCOM-Labs. Ericsson and Nokia are notably absent.

Historically, mobile networks have used fully integrated cell sites, where the radios, hardware and software were proprietary solutions provided by a single manufacturer, such as Ericsson or Nokia. Today, many in the industry are advocating standards and technical specifications that define open interfaces between the radios, hardware and software, enabling networks to use components from more than one company.

Supporters of the concept say the ability to use equipment from multiple suppliers will create a more competitive marketplace and give network operators greater flexibility in managing their networks, able to access innovations from various suppliers and upgrade to the latest technology. This flexibility also enables operators to shift capacity quickly and replace vulnerable network equipment when reacting to threats.

“As evidenced by the current global pandemic, vendor choice and flexibility in next-generation network deployments are necessary from a security and performance standpoint,” Rinaldo said.

In a release announcing the new coalition, the organization said

The U.S. Federal Government has an important role to play in facilitating and fostering an open, diverse and secure supply chain for advanced wireless technologies, including 5G, such as by funding research and development, and testing open and interoperable networks and solutions and incentivizing supply chain diversity.