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17 January 2023

O-RAN Alliance scores key standards partner with ATIS agreement

By Wireless Watch Staff

The O-RAN Alliance, the main body devising specifications to underpin Open RAN platforms, needs to forge partnerships with official standards-setting organizations such as 3GPP, as these will be influential in adopting O-RAN specs within broader, and globally accepted, standards frameworks.

The Alliance has been building these relationships gradually, and last week announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with US standards group ATIS, which is the main regional partner for 3GPP. The goal is to “further both organizations’ mutual objectives to advance the industry towards more intelligent, open, virtualized and global standards-compliant mobile networks”, said a joint statement.

ATIS is influential in the US ecosystem, which has been a particularly intense focus of O-RAN development because many US policy makers believe the platform could help stimulate a homegrown RAN equipment business and reduce reliance on technologies and intellectual property from other regions, especially China. And one of the largest of the small band of at-scale Open RAN deployers, Dish Network, is based in the USA.

Among ATIS board members are senior executives from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Ciena and Comcast. It has a wide remit in terms of technologies, but has recently taken a key role in the nascent US effort to devise a 6G strategy. For this purpose, it has set up the new Next G Alliance.

“This agreement with the O-RAN Alliance brings the power of ATIS’ 3GPP leadership and its contributions to the continued evolution of 5G, coupled with ATIS’ leadership for 6G and beyond as part of its Next G Alliance, to advance the development of Open RAN technologies,” said ATIS CEO Susan Miller in a statement. “The MoU combines the forces of ATIS and the O-RAN Alliance to connect the present to the future for the Open RAN ecosystem, advancing the promise of a robust Open RAN marketplace.”

According to ATIS, the MoU also allows for “participation, by invitation, in meetings of each other’s working groups where appropriate, and promoting and endorsing each other’s events (e.g. conferences and plugfests) or activities (e.g. publication of work results) in areas of mutual interest and with prior consent of the other party.”