Dish Wireless, which as of the first of this year is a subsidiary of EchoStar, is relishing a big win from the federal government: A $50 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The grant is for the establishment of the Open RAN Center for Integration & Deployment, or ORCID. The center will allow participants to test and validate their hardware and software solutions – Radio Units (RU), Distributed Units (DU) and Centralized Units (CU) – against Dish’s commercial-grade open RAN network.

“The Open RAN Center for Integration and Deployment (ORCID) will serve a critical role in strengthening the global Open RAN ecosystem and building the next generation of wireless networks,” said EchoStar co-found and Chairman Charlie Ergen in a statement. “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.”

ORCID will be located in Dish’s Cheyenne, Wyoming, campus and supported by a bunch of partners: Fujitsu, Mavenir and VMware by Broadcom, as well as technology partners Analog Devices, ARM, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Intel, JMA Wireless, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Samsung. 

ORCID will use Dish’s spectrum holdings, which includes a combination of low-, mid-and high-band frequencies, for field testing and evaluation. It will also evaluate open RAN elements through mixing and matching with those of other vendors, which is at the heart of what open RAN enables.  

NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson and Innovation Fund Director Amanda Toman will join EchoStar executives – including Ergen, EchoStar CEO Hamid Akhavan and Chief Network Officer Marc Rouanne – at a kick-off event today in Las Vegas, which includes a tour of a Dish 5G open RAN cell site.

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