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What They’re Saying: Biden-Harris Administration Awards Third Grants from Wireless Innovation Fund

January 10, 2024

Today, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded nearly $80 million in the third round of grants from the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund’s first Notice of Funding Opportunity.

This round includes the first awards in the Testing & Evaluation (T&E) category, designed to expand industry-accepted T&E activities, making testing more accessible to the entire wireless ecosystem.

The $1.5 billion Wireless Innovation Fund supports the development of open and interoperable wireless networks.

Here’s what they are saying about today’s Wireless Innovation Fund grants:

Members of Congress
Senator John Cornyn, Tex.
“Digital communication plays an indispensable role in our daily lives, and we need to ensure more Texans have access to reliable wireless networks across the state. This funding will help bolster the wireless network supply chain, encourage competition, and lower costs for consumers, and I’m glad Rice University and Cirrus360 are playing a leading role in the effort.”

Senator Mark Warner, Va.
“Ensuring that the United States leads the way in developing the next generation of wireless technology is critically important to our national and economic security. I fought to ensure funding for this technology was included in the CHIPS and Science Act last year, and I’m proud that Virginia Tech is receiving some of it. The testbeds that Virginia Tech establishes with this funding will help ensure that our wireless networks are secure from cyberattacks.”

Senator Tim Kaine, Va.
“As technology evolves, it’s critical that we have infrastructure and tools to protect us from new types of cyber threats. I helped pass the CHIPS and Science Act to help develop those tools. I’m glad Virginia Tech is receiving this funding made possible by the law to help lead that important effort.”

Senator Edward J. Markey, Mass.
“With this important grant from NTIA, Northeastern University will further cement its position as a national leader in developing resilient and secure wireless technologies. I am pleased that Massachusetts – and Northeastern – remains at the forefront of these innovative communications technologies.”

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Ariz.
“Innovation in Arizona continues to flourish thanks to our work on the CHIPS and Science Act. The $21.7 million grant we secured for VIAVI Solutions in Chandler will fuel economic growth, spur innovation, and lower costs — and we couldn’t be prouder to help make it a reality.”

Senator Mark Kelly, Ariz.
“Thanks to cutting edge companies like VIAVI, Arizona is a hotbed for industries of the future, including the next generation of wireless technologies. As a lead negotiator of the Chips and Science Act, I worked to secure investments that will fuel innovation, increase competition, and reduce reliance on wireless equipment providers that threaten our national security.”

Representative H. Morgan Griffith, Va.
“As we continue to develop new cellular telecommunications to connect our world, ensuring that these networks are protected from cybersecurity threats is paramount. I am excited to see Virginia Tech leverage this grant from NTIA to develop an Open Radio Access Networks cybersecurity testing framework, to test for potential radio interference vulnerabilities.”

Award recipients
Chaitali Sengupta, Chief Executive Officer

“Cirrus360 is extremely honored to receive this grant from NTIA’s Public Wireless Innovation Fund. With this award NTIA recognizes the potential of Intelligent Automation and a RAN Domain Specific Language to guide testing of open wireless network implementations, addressing a diversity of new use cases. Cirrus360 will be applying our patented technology to automatically identify software-hardware integration challenges while testing open RAN implementations. Our automation approach will significantly reduce multi-vendor system integration and testing time and effort. This, in turn, enables rapid AI/ML driven multi-vendor innovations at scale, which is the ultimate vision of open, interoperable wireless networks. We are excited to be part of the NTIA Wireless Innovation family.”

Charlie Ergen, Co-founder and Chairman, EchoStar (DISH parent company)

“The Open RAN Center for Integration and Deployment (ORCID) will serve a critical role in strengthening the Open RAN ecosystem and building the next generation of wireless networks. By leveraging DISH’s experience deploying the world's first standalone Open RAN 5G network, ORCID will be uniquely positioned to test and evaluate Open RAN interoperability, performance and security from domestic and international vendors. We appreciate NTIA’s recognition of DISH and ORCID’s role in driving Open RAN innovation and the Administration’s ongoing commitment to U.S. leadership in wireless connectivity.”

Northeastern University
Tommaso Melodia, Director of Northeastern University’s Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things

“We are honored to receive this award, which will further enrich our Open6G research, development, and testing portfolio focused on shaping the future of open, programmable, automated, and AI-driven wireless systems through disruptive innovation. Through the AutoRAN project, we will develop new approaches for continuous and automated integration, deployment, and testing of end-to-end multi-vendor network stacks. This effort addresses a critical hurdle in the successful implementation of Open Radio Access Networks, employing artificial intelligence techniques and large language models to define tests.”
Rice University
Ashutosh Sabharwal, Department Chair and Ernest Dell Butcher Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

“The next-generation networks will leverage machine-learning as a core tool to optimize their performance. To ensure that the machine learning algorithms are robust, consistent and failure-tolerant, we will design new testing strategies that can be used by researchers, developers, operators and regulators. We look forward to working with NTIA and other funded teams to achieve the vision.”

Oleg Khaykin, President and Chief Executive Officer

“VIAVI is proud to be a recipient of a grant from the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, which will make Open RAN testing accessible, affordable, and sustainable for the entire ecosystem. Open RAN is critical to securing the telecommunications supply chain of our nation, but the inherent openness and flexibility of this technology also bring about complexities. As a leader in 5G and upcoming 6G, VIAVI is committed to certification, benchmarking, optimization and verification to enhance the efficiency, automation, and security of Open RAN systems.”

Virginia Tech
Nishith Tripathi, Research Associate Professor

“Virginia Tech, in collaboration with George Mason University, Penn State and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, looks forward to contributing toward a comprehensive and trustworthy O-RAN ecosystem. Our project will develop and demonstrate a holistic and automated cybersecurity testing framework to facilitate widespread deployments of secure O-RAN.”