• Group revises procedures to alleviate concerns over US export rules.
  • Deutsche Telekom is “fully committed” to the Alliance.
  • USA considering clarifications for standards organisations.

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Nokia resumes O-RAN Alliance activity

Source: Hermann Traub/Pixabay

The open radio access network (RAN) community can breathe a sigh of relief following the recent drama involving the O‑RAN Alliance and compliance with US export regulations.

Nokia caused a stir two weeks ago when it halted technical activity in the O‑RAN Alliance because of several Chinese participants being added to the US “Entities List” and its concerns about potential US penalties from working with the blacklisted companies in the specifications group. Ericsson said the situation might delay the group’s progress.

The O‑RAN Alliance said on Monday that it had made changes to “O‑RAN participation documents and procedures” to address these concerns, although it did not elaborate.

The modifications were enough to satisfy Nokia and the Finnish vendor said it will resume activities in the group.

“ Nokia is delighted that the important work of the O‑RAN Alliance can now continue fully and Nokia’s technical contributions to the Alliance will resume. The speed with which the Alliance has been able to resolve recent issues speaks to the spirit of community and cooperation on which it was founded. ” 

— Nokia spokesperson.

It is hoped that the issue or future changes in US trade restrictions will not further interfere with the group’s efforts to develop open RAN specifications.

We remain fully committed to working together in the Alliance to achieve the goals and objectives of O‑RAN as quickly as possible,” said Alex Jinsung Choi, COO of the O‑RAN Alliance and SVP of Strategy and Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom, one of the Alliance’s founding members.

While the Alliance adapted its own procedures to help its members ensure compliance with US export regulations, it appears that the US government is also considering certain revisions to export regulations that could provide more clarity for standards-making groups like the Alliance. As things stand, only a handful of recognised standards bodies have been granted exemptions to allow work to continue with Huawei, for example, including the 3GPP, ETSI, and IEEE.

The US Department of Commerce sent the following statement to TelcoTitans:

“ The United States is working with its allies and partners to support a vibrant and diverse supply chain of trustworthy telecommunications equipment and services. This includes support for open, interoperable approaches like open RAN technologies that have the potential to enhance and promote market competition. The Department of Commerce continually evaluates its export controls to protect US national security and foreign policy interests, including technology leadership in international standards development.

“ As noted in the Office of Management and Budget’s Unified Regulatory Agenda, the Department is preparing a revision to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to clarify the applicability of the EAR to releases of technology for standards setting or development in standards organisations. No penalties have been imposed upon parties in connection with standards development. ”

— US Department of Commerce spokesperson.