Open RAN projects in line for massive German government funds: Report
- Germany announced a €130 billion stimulus package last June
- Now specific funding allocations are being made
- Billions of euros had been earmarked for digital technology advances
- The network tech fund looks set to focus on Open RAN investments
- News comes as Euro telco giants seek public funding for Open RAN
Talk about wish fulfilment. Just as the ‘Open RAN G4’ of European telco giants were committing to deploy disaggregated radio access networks and calling for national and regional government funding to help develop a European Open RAN ecosystem, Angela Merkel’s German government was rubber-stamping a significant investment in Open RAN R&D as part of its monster economic stimulus package, according to documents seen by German business newspaper Handelsblatt. (See Euro telco giants commit to Open RAN, lobby for state support.)
In June last year, the German federal government outlined its plans for a €130 billion economic stimulus package, which included billions to help Germany “go digital” – for example, €5 billion was assigned for investment in artificial intelligence (AI) projects that could help create the best research and development conditions and attract the top AI talent.
Billions of euros were also assigned to eliminating “dead spots” of mobile data coverage and quantum computing efforts, while €2 billion was assigned to “testing new network technologies” for "5G and, later on, 6G" and supporting “innovative companies as they develop and test new, software-controlled network technologies.” In addition, “the plan is to facilitate market entry for such innovative network technologies.”
According to Handelsblatt, that €2 billion is being targeted at Open RAN developments and spread across multiple projects managed by multiple German government bodies, including the Federal Ministry of Research, the Ministry of Transport, the Economic Department and the Ministry of the Interior.
The aim is not only to position Germany at the heart of Europe’s emerging, next-generation digital communications networking ecosystem but also ensure there are plenty of supplier alternatives for the mobile operators that are increasingly reliant on a small group of vendors (mostly Ericsson and Nokia, now that Huawei has fallen out of favour and become a tainted with suspicion).
The investment, if confirmed, backs up written evidence given by the Telecom Infra Project (TIP)’s Executive Director Attilio Zani to the UK government’s Science and Technology committee in late June last year that €2 billion of German federal funds from the stimulus package would be earmarked for Open RAN R&D.
Such funding would be a massive boost for Europe’s mobile networking tech development sector, which currently does not have any companies to rival the likes of US firms Altiostar, Mavenir and Parallel Wireless, which have long been developing Open RAN software: Likewise, Europe is not the home of any of the chip companies (think Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx, Nvidia, Marvell) that are currently developing the hardware components that will be needed for the supporting infrastructure needed to underpin dense, urban, carrier-class Open RAN.
Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone want to see a growing and healthy European Open RAN tech development scene – the German government might just get the ball rolling and set a precedent that others might follow.
- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV
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