USAID enhancing connectivity in Indo-Pacific 

By Noralyn A. Macabalang

USAID Acting Mission Director Bret Campbell while addressing the June 29 virtual symposium. (US EMBASSY SUPPLIED PHOTO)

KIDAPAWAN CITY – The United States Agency for International Development held a virtual symposium on July 29 to launch the USAID Asia Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) Academy aimed at enhancing connectivity in the Indo-Pacific corridor, the U.S. embassy in Manila announced. 

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, the embassy said in a statement copy furnished with the Philippine Muslim Today newspaper. 

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O-RAN is a new approach to create architecture that opens up telecommunications linkage, allowing mobile network operators to choose the best products and solutions from a variety of vendors.  It can help mobile network operators to advance security, foster greater innovation and competition, lower costs, and facilitate the use of 5G, the embassy said. 

With more than 200 participants, the Asia O-RAN Academy symposium gathered the foremost thought leaders and practitioners from every segment of the O-RAN ecosystem, it added. 

Speakers, it said, included representatives from government, private, and academic sectors including representatives from the Philippine Department of Science and Technology, the TerraHerz, Parallel Wireless, and University of Santo Tomas, with the audience composed of students, practicing engineers, lecturers, and mobile network operators. 

“USAID believes the O-RAN approach is on the critical path of achieving its digital sector objective for interoperable, open, reliable, and secure internet and vibrant digital economy,” acting Deputy Mission Director Bret Campbell said.  

“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 around the corner, including the Internet of Things and 6G,” Campbell added. 

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, the embassy said. 

The Academy, 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, will help participants become job-ready by providing the skills needed to test and deploy O-RAN networks, the embassy said. 

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. (NAM)

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