WASHINGTON – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) received 127 applications requesting $1.39 billion to support testing and research and development activities related to open and interoperable wireless networks, according to preliminary data released today.
NTIA will make up to $140.5 million available in this first round of funding from the $1.5 billion Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund. The Wireless Innovation Fund is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda, and aims to drive wireless innovation, foster competition, and strengthen supply chain resilience.
“NTIA’s Innovation Fund will address the urgent need to increase the resilience, diversity and security of the wireless equipment market,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Alan Davidson. “The overwhelming interest in this first round of funding shows the private sector is stepping up to meet that need. These are the important first steps in this critical project to help us drive competition, strengthen our supply chain, and provide our allies additional trusted, innovative choices.”
Applications for the first round of funding were due June 2. NTIA will evaluate the applications and make the first awards in August. These funds are expected to be used for a range of R&D and testing activities, including:
- Expanding industry-accepted testing and evaluation (T&E) activities to assess and facilitate the interoperability, performance, and/or security of open and interoperable, standards-based 5G radio access networks; and
- Developing new or improved testing methodologies to test, evaluate, and validate the interoperability, performance, and/or security of these networks, including their component parts.
Applicants requested $146 million for research and development projects, and $1.2 billion for testing and evaluation activities.
To raise awareness of the program and help prospective applicants through the process, NTIA conducted extensive outreach. The agency held an Information Session in April and has also posted Frequently Asked Questions to respond to stakeholder inquiries and provide additional guidance. The first Notice of Funding Opportunity was shaped by feedback NTIA received from its Request for Comment and Listening Session on the program’s development.
Wireless Innovation Fund
Over the next decade, NTIA will work to catalyze the development and adoption of open, interoperable, and standards-based networks through the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund. Authorized under the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act and funded through the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, this 10-year grant program will help drive wireless innovation, foster competition, and strengthen supply chain resilience. It will also help unlock opportunities for companies from the United States and its global allies, to compete in a market historically dominated by a few suppliers, including high-risk suppliers that raise security concerns.