5G industry news Acceleration & Innovation

Innovation Briefing Issue 10 | FRANC Co-operation

  • 5 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 10 Aug 2022
  • Last modified 2 Aug 2022
The winners of the Future RAN Competition are helping to build the next generation of mobile. But how might they co-operate?

Projects up and down the country have trained  thousands of people to acquire 5G skills. FRANC, the Future RAN Competition seeks to build on this investment.  From the start it was decided to build the ecosystem by ensuring each bidder reflects different parts of the supply chain. But could projects co-operate too? The diagram here is an idea of how projects they might pool their knowledge and experience. We’ve categorised the projects into four groups:

Pentagons are component suppliers, providing parts such as the chips used in mobile base stations. Circles are the projects which are making the finished base stations. Squares are projects that take base stations, test them and deploy them, a job involving some systems integration. Triangles show projects which provide software and services that other projects may be able to use.

This diagram is a generalisation, because a project consortium already reflects a very broad skill set. But to simplify things,  we’ve concentrated on the prime activity.

FRANC Collaboration Map

The best use for this map is to help you understand how, if you work in 5G, you might contribute to the ecosystem and where your product or service might fit in. And just like a tube map, while it may be overwhelming when you look at it as a whole if you start with one project and look at how it relates to each of the others it’s much easier to follow.

Component suppliers

Secure 5G

The PA or Power Amplifier is a key radio component that boosts the signal. The consortium is developing a “Quantum secured” Software Defined Radio platform to produce a signal across a wider range of frequencies, up to 10 GHz, than is typically available today.


Compound semiconductors are components that amplify power and light, much faster than silicon can. The CSA Catapult-led project will help to develop a UK-based supply chain for these vital switching parts with chip manufacturing in Newcastle.


Developing Open RAN based “secure software” to improve the performance of the interworking between public and private, and terrestial and satellite networks.


An abstraction layer of software which sits between the chipset and the base station hardware. This model enables base station designs that can incorporate the latest “chipsets (Intel & ARM)” without needing a full redesign. Scalable OFH

A project using compound semiconductors to improve the efficiency of the fibre connection between the part of a cell site which atop a mast, and the part nearby on the ground which does the processing.

Equipment Manufacturers

Best of British

cellXica is building 5G cells designed and manufactured in the UK, that thanks to technology from AccelerComm should be significantly more efficient, and reduce deployment costs.


Sometimes called a “datacentre in a box”, Cloudlets are small servers that sit between the cloud and the user’s devices, bringing computing power closer to the edge of the network. The project investigates novel ways of interconnecting and managing the equipment.


The Distributed Unit (or DU) takes analog radio signals and converts them into binary data traffic. The project is developing a reduced power, smaller DU with improved spectrum efficiency and reduced latency.


Small cells which have integrated radio backhaul to build a network that doesn’t rely on the universal availability of fibre to create a deployment.

Integration and Deployment


Creat a 5G Standalone network in a box the size of a large computer, that is fully Open RAN compliant, using as much software and commodity PC components as can be achieved.


Led by the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), the aim is to examine how the RAN is operated in a multi-vendor environment, focusing on the RAN Intelligent Controller and its network automation role.

5G Drive

A security led programme led by Virgin Mobile O2, for private networks capable of integrating with public networks to simplify  the install for private enterprises.


Developing an end-to-end 5G Open RAN system, led by Toshiba. The nine members include NDEC, a UK centre of excellence in cyber resilience.


A project to test and demonstrate a multiple operator, neutral host solution using a multiple vendor Open RAN ecosystem with a view to depolyment by the major Mobile Network Operators.

Test and orchestration


Open RAN Advanced Radio Test  Systems sees AceAxis in partnership with MAC limited  develop equipment to test the RF optical interface of a base station to lower the cost of deploying infrastructure.

Towards AI

A virtualised AI system to mange and optimise 5G networks to ensure “ease of deployment and operation”


The SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre is a collaboration between Digital Catapult and Ofcom providing an open network testbed for vendors to test interoperability and accelerate their technology development.

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