On April 1, 2021, RWR Advisory Group published its latest report, entitled, “Chinese Companies Active in the Architecture of Open RAN,” which highlights the role played by Chinese state-owned (and other higher risk, China-domiciled) companies in a new solution being pursued by wireless communication service providers to construct 5G wireless networks.
Open RAN is an approach to “radio access network” (RAN) design that permits operators to mix and match RAN components from different manufacturers (rather than being built as a proprietary end-to-end solution). It is being heralded by many as a viable strategy for replacing Huawei with a similarly cost-effective solution, but one that avoids embedding untrusted Chinese companies (and components) into 5G infrastructure.
Chinese companies, however, are actively involved in this new solution as well, notably via the organizations setting the specifications. This report explains this involvement, identifies some of the main companies and provides some brief context on the past (and sometimes ongoing) associations of these companies that have exposed them to national security, reputational and other forms of risk.