The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Technology (NIST) has joined the O-RAN Alliance, a nonprofit organization that works to re-shape the radio access network (RAN) industry towards more intelligent, open, virtualized, and fully interoperable mobile networks. The Alliance is a worldwide community of mobile operators, vendors, and research and academic institutions.
RAN, a major component of modern telecommunications technologies, connects individual devices to other parts of a network through radio connections. It allows devices to communicate using radio waves and is used in cell towers, mobile phones, and internet-connected devices. The O-RAN Alliance, which includes members of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), works to develop hardware and software specifications that allow manufacturers and network operators to mix and match products from different vendors— effectively reducing reliance on single vendors, and making it easier for new businesses and products to enter the marketplace.
“By joining the O-RAN Alliance, NIST will enhance U.S. leadership in wireless technologies and promote stable and diverse supply chains, which are a priority for this administration,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST director Laurie E. Locascio. “NIST will also promote open and transparent standards for 5G and other next-generation wireless technologies to help ensure data privacy and protect against cyber threats.”
Locascio also noted that NIST, which has unique capabilities for measuring the performance, security, and interoperability of Open RAN systems, will help the community bring these standards to market more quickly by joining the alliance.