Echostar subsidiary Dish Wireless has been awarded a $50 million grant by the US Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to establish the Open RAN Center for Integration & Deployment (ORCID).

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– Dish Network

ORCID will enable for the testing and validating of hardware and software solutions (RU, DU, and CU) against a complete commercial-grade Open RAN network deployed by Dish.

ORCID will be based at Dish's Cheyenne, Wyoming campus.

A number of consortium partners including Fujitsu, Mavenir, and VMware by Broadcom, plus technology partners Analog Devices, Arm, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Intel, JMA Wireless, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Samsung will support the project.

Testing at the campus will test and evaluate individual or multiple network elements to ensure Open RAN interoperability, performance, and security.

"The Open RAN Center for Integration and Deployment (ORCID) will serve a critical role in strengthening the global Open RAN ecosystem and building the next generation of wireless networks," said Charlie Ergen, co-founder and chairman, EchoStar.

"By leveraging DISH's experience deploying the world's first standalone Open RAN 5G network, ORCID will be uniquely positioned to test and evaluate Open RAN interoperability, performance, and security from domestic and international vendors."

The funding from the NTIA is the largest grant it has issued to date for its Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund.

It's part of a $1.5 billion pot that was launched last year by the Biden Administration, as the US aims to increase its development of open and interoperable networks, and is funded by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.

In February of last year, Dish launched its virtualized RAN (vRAN) 5G network with the support of South Korean vendor Samsung providing tens of thousands of radios.

It builds on the multi-year partnership that the pair signed in 2022, which sees Samsung providing support for Dish Wireless' 5G Open RAN rollout.

To support Dish with its nationwide rollout, Samsung has supplied the company with 24,000 5G Open-RAN compliant radios, plus 5G virtualized RAN (vRAN) software solutions.

In June of last year, Dish said it reached its 5G broadband coverage target set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to more than 70 percent of the US population.