On June 29, the United States Agency for International Development held a virtual symposium to launch the USAID Asia Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) Academy.
The Academy, an alliance of academic, government, and industry stakeholders, will work throughout the Philippines and the entire Indo-Pacific region to advance an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet and vibrant digital ecosystem through increased cooperation, competition, and choice.
O-RAN is a new approach to network architecture that opens up the telecommunications network, allowing mobile network operators to choose the best products and solutions from a variety of vendors. This approach can help mobile network operators to advance security, foster greater innovation and competition, lower costs, and facilitate 5G deployment.
With more than 200 participants, the Asia O-RAN Academy symposium brought together the foremost thought leaders and practitioners from every segment of the O-RAN ecosystem. Speakers included representatives from the government, private, and academic sectors including representatives from the Philippine Department of Science and Technology, TerraHerz, Parallel Wireless, and University of Santo Tomas. The audience was composed of students, practicing engineers, lecturers, and mobile network operators.
“USAID believes that the O-RAN approach is on the critical path of achieving its digital sector objective of an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet and vibrant digital economy,” said Acting Deputy Mission Director Bret Campbell. “This approach is particularly well-suited for the Philippines—and the entire Indo-Pacific region—because deciding to deploy it now will make these networks ready for all of the exciting innovations that are just around the corner, including the Internet of Things and 6G.”
To achieve its goal of accelerating the adoption of O-RAN approaches, the Academy developed a university-level curriculum with academics, technologists, mobile network operators, and manufacturers that will be implemented in the Philippines and across the Indo-Pacific.
Consisting of technical and foundational courses that will teach participants about the broader context and path ahead for O-RAN, including courses about artificial intelligence and machine learning integration, the Academy curriculum will help participants become job-ready by providing the skills needed to test and deploy O-RAN networks.
The Academy is funded by USAID as part of the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. It is co-created by academic institutions, government stakeholders, and organizations and companies in the public and private sectors.