The UK's Open Networks Ecosystem
The government is making a £250m investment through the Open Networks R&D Fund; this represents a step-forward in its endeavour for the UK to take a leading role in early stage research and guide the development of technology standards, alongside key industry and international partners.
The fund will help to:
The UK government wants the entire country to benefit from the social and economic advantages that digital infrastructure enables. There is a recognition that the future telecoms landscape will be broad and varied, encompassing a range of emerging technologies including 6th generation wireless (6G), quantum communication and quantum internet, next generation space-based communications, cloud communications and associated infrastructure, edge computing, and hardware advances such as next generation fibre optics. Government has stated a strong intention for the UK to be at the forefront of these emerging trends.
It is with this in mind that they have designed the investment and planned activities to work towards safeguarding the security, resilience, competition and innovation benefits of diverse telecoms supply chains, without compromising on the performance, features or efficiency.
In July 2022, the government published a Prospectus that outlines how the fund will accelerate the pace of UK telecoms innovation.
You can read the prospectus in full here.
Several early projects within the 5G Testbeds & Trials programme - which focused primarily on 5G adoption - have disaggregated hardware and software components, such as 5G RuralFirst.
Subsequently, a number of other projects have used early versions of Open RAN Alliance specified networks to benefit from lower cost and a better choice of networks, including :
FRANC, run by DCMS, has allocated £30 million of R&D funding to 15 projects that support the goals of the government's 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy. The initiative takes a broad definition of Open RAN, embracing the whole network, not just the radio component. It aims to help to incentivise industry to create new products and services to unlock the full potential of Open RAN, encourgaing more private sector innovation to accelerate 5G deployment in the UK and boost export sales.
DCMS has launched a £25m competition to enable academics and the telecoms industry to conduct early-stage research into open and interoperable telecoms solutions, such as Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN), for us in 5G and future networks such as 6G.
Proposals must be submitted by 03 October 2022 and you can read the DCMS announcement here.
Building a more competitive, innovative, and diverse supply chain for the global telecoms market.