Open RAN takes the stage on Capitol Hill, as vendors testify

Open RAN players press US security benefits

23 APR 2021

Leading open RAN vendors and operators argued the approach could play a key part in US efforts to boost the security of domestic networks, provided politicians delivered policies favouring home-grown software over international alternatives.

The security credentials of open RAN was at the forefront of discussions involving executives from Mavenir; JMA Wireless; the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA); Open RAN Policy Coalition; and Rakuten Mobile during a hearing with the US Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

JMA Wireless CEO John Mezzalingua told politicians the US government “should enact policies that promote American innovation while staying true to our international obligations of fair play”. The company produces software-defined baseband systems and is a long-time proponent of domestic manufacturing.

Some critics of open RAN have questioned the security of open interfaces, but Tareq Amin, EVP and CTO of Japanese new entrant Rakuten Mobile, was unequivocal in backing the protective qualities.

Open interfaces, he contended, give operators greater visibility and control of their networks, adding they should “eliminate proprietary interfaces that exist today”.

Amin also highlighted the potential cost savings delivered by open RAN, telling the subcommittee 70 per cent of an operator’s capex currently goes towards RAN, meaning any reduction here could have a big impact.

Mezzalingua alluded to the fact that the US government is likely to spend billions on infrastructure in the years ahead, with wireless broadband a contender for some of the funding planned.

Taxpayers’ money would be best spent with US manufacturers, he argued.

Subcommittee chair Michael Doyle stated the “security and integrity” of networks was a key consideration for the hearing, as an increasing amount of “communications and commerce occur via wirelessly connected devices”.

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Martha DeGrasse

Freelance tech journalist Martha DeGrasse (@mardegrasse) is delighted to be contributing to Mobile World Live. Martha has written for a number of telecom and wireless publications, and was a writer, editor and video producer at RCR Wireless News for almost...

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