A growing area of concern amongst companies working in the 5G sector, especially in countries which have seen sanctions imposed on Huawei’s inclusion in critical infrastructure, is how semiconductor technology - vital for the advancement and maintenance of 5G networks - is going to advance in the next 12 months.
And ahead of the FCC Forum on 5G Open Radio Access Networks (opens in new tab), which takes place on Monday, Parallel Wireless, one of the companies taking part in the Forum, has issued a statement on what it sees as a critical issue for 5G roll-out.
“While 5G offers greatly improved connectivity, millions of rural Americans still have limited 4G Internet access because the costs for mobile operators to deploy to small numbers of rural users is too high, and these rural users will likely have to wait a decade for 5G,” said Steve Papa, CEO at Parallel Wireless. “These 5G deployment costs can be dramatically lowered with R&D challenge projects – notably for the semiconductors that comprise the majority of the network build out costs, aside from steel and fiber.”
Addressing the issue of semiconductors
Although companies like Altiostar and Mavenir have announced a collaboration to deliver a new portfolio of radios based on OpenRAN principles for the US market, Parallel Wireless, a fellow member of the Open RAN Policy Coalition, has said that Huawei’s dominance can’t be overcome until the industry addresses the issue of semiconductors.
“What becomes apparent, is that as the US successfully contains Huawei’s presence in the global market, with Huawei not being able to access any advanced semiconductor design technology, the incumbent semiconductor vendors lack the market forces and incentives to drive this technological leap forward for 5G,” Papa explained.
In May, the US stopped Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) from making and supplying chips to Huawei, and any current Huawei affiliates have been added to the US government's economic blacklist, taking the total to 152. And companies such as Parallel Wireless have called on the US government to commit more budget to R&D development in the area of semiconductors.
“If we are to connect the tens of millions of Americans currently challenged with limited connectivity, it is imperative for the US government to address this semiconductor market disturbance, that is a reaction to Huawei containment,” Papa said. “This will allow design of advanced semiconductor technology to flourish in the US, and help mobile operators reduce their deployment cost. The results could be very beneficial to the rural communities where best of breed wireless networks can be built and more people can be connected with 5G.”