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O-RAN an also-ran to Huawei 5G

NEW YORK – Nokia departed this week from the US industry umbrella organization that’s promoting a software-based alternative to Huawei’s state-of-the-art 5G infrastructure – a blow to the credibility of a project that’s had trouble getting off the ground.

Eighteen months ago the Trump administration dropped plans to create an American national champion to counter Huawei’s dominant position in 5G broadband infrastructure. Instead, it endorsed a software-based approach known by the acronym O-RAN – Open Radio Access Networks.

Cheap generic computer components driven by sophisticated software would replace the dedicated processor chips and radio modems that Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia build into 5G base stations and receiving devices – and would bypass Huawei’s superior technology and enormous patent portfolio.

Trump’s economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, quoted O-RAN enthusiast Michael Dell – by coincidence a leading provider of generic components – to the effect that “software eats hardware.” America’s tech companies exited most of their manufacturing businesses after the 2000 recession and concentrated on more profitable software.