The US government gathered top operator and technology companies to explore open RAN as a way to reduce the country’s reliance on Huawei kit, working alongside AT&T, Dell and Microsoft to develop 5G software, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

Though work is in early stages, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told newspaper the aim is ultimately to ensure “US 5G architecture and infrastructure” comes from domestic companies.

He noted, however, that Ericsson and Nokia would likely remain in the mix as suppliers, given their strong presence in the country.

Huawei criticised the move, with chief US security officer Andy Purdy arguing in a statement to WSJ such a software product would lag up to two years behind the vendor’s gear. He reiterated an earlier offer to licence its 5G technology to a US-based competitor.

Kudlow’s comments reinforced a recent statement from US secretary of state Mike Pompeo that US authorities were working to foster new global alternatives to Huawei.

US officials aren’t the only ones eyeing open RAN as an opportunity to supplant Huawei: software provider Mavenir told the Federal Communications Commission in a recent meeting the approach “could stimulate US-based suppliers to enter the 5G supply chain” and boost domestic “manufacturing of technology and software rather than offshoring it to China”.

It added open RAN offers a cost effective option for rural operators in the country to replace existing Huawei kit in their networks.