Access Alert | US Commerce Department Solicits First Round of Innovation Fund (5G & Open RAN) Applications 

Access Alert | US Commerce Department Solicits First Round of Innovation Fund (5G & Open RAN) Applications 

On April 12th, the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency within the Department of Commerce, issued its first Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund. The $1.5 billion Innovation Fund was funded by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 to “catalyse the development and adoption of open, interoperable, and standards-based networks”, including 5G and next-gen wireless technology along with Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) initiatives. 

This first round is focused exclusively on testing activities within two program areas, as follows: 

(1) Testing and Evaluation (T&E): facilitate and assess the interoperability, performance, and/or security of open and interoperable, standards-based 5G radio access networks; and  

(2) Testing R&D: develop new and/or materially improve existing testing methodologies to test, evaluate, and validate the interoperability, performance, and/or security of these networks, including their component parts, in order to address needs not currently met by industry-accepted tests and best practices. 

NTIA will award $140.5 million in this first round with individual grants ranging from $250,000 up to $50 million. Applications must be submitted by June 2 through the US government’s grants portal (Grants.gov).  NTIA expects to make awards on a rolling basis with initial awards issued no later than August 8.  Notably, foreign companies are eligible for funding provided that all funded work occurs within the United States. 

Access Partnership closely tracks policy developments and assists clients on Open RAN issues and other US funding opportunities tied to advancing cutting edge technologies. Our prior advocacy led to the creation, development and implementation of the Innovation Fund.  For more information, including potential development of applications, Open RAN policy, or other CHIPS Act funding opportunities, please reach out to Dileep Srihari at [email protected], Meghan Chilappa at [email protected], or Jacob Hafey at [email protected] 

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