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New Open RAN Principles published to build stronger telecoms supply chain

  • 3 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 29 Apr 2022
  • Last modified 29 Apr 2022
The government has today announced a new set of guidelines for industry to roll out Open RAN solutions across the UK quickly and attract new telecoms suppliers to the 5G supply chain.

At the Open RAN World event in Berlin yesterday, the Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez announced a set of principles for developing and deploying Open RAN equipment - a new breed of telecoms kit which allows providers to ‘mix and match’ solutions from multiple vendors which is not possible under current network setups.

There is a need for clarity on the design characteristics of Open RAN, such as the adoption of standards and demonstration of interoperability between components. These Open RAN Principles clear up this ambiguity to ensure it delivers on its promise of resilient and secure networks for 5G and beyond, and innovative and competitive supply chains for the long-run.

The principles will help ensure any future investment in Open RAN R&D is well targeted to give the taxpayer the best value for money, and provide a guide to industry to ensure the Open RAN tech being developed and deployed in the UK will work in the interests of British citizens and business.

The UK is becoming one of the best places in the world to invest in Open RAN technologies. The £250 million 5G Diversification Strategy, published November 2020, sets out where the government will remove barriers for new vendors, invest in open technologies like Open RAN and work with like-minded countries to achieve the shared aim for secure and resilient telecoms supply chains.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Julia Lopez said:

"With so much momentum behind Open RAN, now is the right time to set these principles so industry and governments can take a common approach to developing and deploying this  technology, so it delivers on its promise to disrupt the market and spark a wave of innovation and competition in telecoms."

Ian Levy, Technical Director at the National Cyber Security Centre, said:

"Open RAN promises to make our networks more resilient and futureproof, but this market change must be managed carefully to deliver on that promise whilst maintaining security and performance levels. These Principles set a clear direction of travel for the industry to build secure and resilient networks for 5G and beyond."

Scott Petty, Chief Digital and IT Officer, Vodafone said:

‘"Vodafone is taking a leading role in the development and rollout of OpenRAN, which will be a central part of our long-term network evolution and resilience.

We welcome the government’s continued commitment to this innovative and exciting technology and look forward to accelerating the adoption of OpenRAN across the wider telecoms ecosystem.”

The principles demonstrate the UK’s proactive approach to telecoms diversification on the global stage. Following the Prague Proposals on Telecommunications Supplier Diversity (published last year), these principles can act as a framework for discussions with international partners on how best to develop Open RAN and deliver on shared aims for a more resilient and sustainable supply chain.

In December the government announced a joint ambition made with the UK mobile network operators for 35% of mobile network traffic to pass through Open RAN by the end of the decade, and a string of investments worth over £50 million in innovative trials and facilities to develop new Open RAN solutions.

DCMS UK Open RAN Policy Principles Paper

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