On March 18, 2021, the FCC released a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) in the Promoting Deployment of 5G Open Radio Access Networks (“Open RAN”) Matter, which was adopted at the March Open Meeting. The following notable changes were made from the Draft NOI:
- ¶ 15 – Providing a description of the efforts the FCC has taken this year in the Rip and Replace matter, which will likely have a large impact on the use of Open RAN devices for 5G.
- ¶ 31 – Requesting comment on the current market structure in the traditional RAN sector impacts or affects the deployment and adoption of Open Ran solutions including how many options are available, how interoperable is current RAN equipment with other hardware and software, is that equipment or software proprietary, are there any restrictions placed by equipment manufacturers on wireless carriers’ equipment choices or options or on their upstream suppliers, and what affect any such restrictions have on competition and Open Ran deployment and adoption.
- ¶ 33 – Requesting comment on the vertical supply chain relationships in telecommunications networking equipment markets and the potential effects of current market conditions on the demand for and deployment of Open RAN solutions, including barriers or market conditions that may affect or impede the deployment and adoption of Open RAN now or in the future.
- ¶ 38 – Including in a specific request for comment on how Open RAN might affect the affordability of series and products for the most vulnerable consumers, including rural and low-income Americans.
- ¶ 53 – Including a request for comment on what role the FCC has in holding vendors accountable for their products and whether the FCC’s existing equipment authorization rules are sufficient to perform this role.
- ¶ 73 – Including additional requests for comment regarding testing of Open RAN equipment including whether the current authorizations are sufficient, how testing responsibilities should be allocated, and whether the FCC or other Federal agencies should have a role in evaluating, auditing, or ensuring that vendors purporting to offer Open RAN systems actually provide an open and interoperable solution.
- ¶ 83 – Requesting comment on whether there is a similar need for or interest in advancing open-architecture network solutions generally (e.g. open and disaggregated optical and packet transport and open cloud-native core), including how RAN and non-RAN elements of a network differ in their need for the feasibility of disaggregated, interoperable solutions, whether there are issues or market conditions that prompted the development of Open RAN solutions which are similarly prevalent in non-RAN elements of the system, what efforts have been made to develop and deploy open-architecture network solutions for other elements of the systems, and what costs, benefits, or challenges of open-architecture network solutions generally exist.
Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Reply Comments will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
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