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Gov Commit GBP80m to Help UK Develop Open Mobile Networks

Tuesday, Mar 14th, 2023 (3:21 pm) - Score 1,392
Vodafone OpenRAN Mast in Rural UK Area

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is inviting applications for up to £80m of funding to support the development of open network solutions, such as 4G and 5G OpenRAN on mobile networks and other technologies that can help to standardise their design, functionality and interoperability.

The Open Networks Ecosystem Competition (ONEC) represents the next phase of the UK Open Networks Research and Development (R&D) Fund. The funding will go toward projects that help to develop a range of software and hardware products to help further the adoption of open and interoperable technologies for digital networks.

PICTURED – TOP: A Vodafone OpenRAN mast.

The competition aims to tackle barriers to the adoption of open mobile networks in three key challenge areas:

➤ High Demand Density (HDD) Use Cases/Demonstrations: HDD sites such as urban areas, airports, sports venues and major public events represent the most challenging environments for the technical performance of mobile networks. We’re looking to fund projects which seek to develop, demonstrate and test approaches for optimising mobile network performance in High Demand Density environments.

➤ RIC and other RAN Software Automation: We’re interested in projects which seek to explore how the openness and interoperability of Open RAN software, including Near-Real-Time or Real-Time RIC technologies and apps, could be improved.

➤ Processors, RF, and other RAN Hardware: We’re interested in projects looking to accelerate the development of performant open interface RAN hardware, such as analogue RF and antenna components, RF chips, and baseband processing solutions to address the disparity in features, performance, and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) between traditional and open solutions.

This is all part of the government’s widerOpen Networks R&D Fund, which connects back to the £250m 5G Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Strategy through a range of telecoms R&D projects.

Kristian Toivo, Executive Director of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), said:

“The UK government is heavily invested in supporting a more open, diverse, and crucially, innovative ecosystem of telecoms vendors. As it has correctly pointed out, blueprints to develop, demonstrate and test approaches that are commercially ready for operators to deploy is vital to the success of open networks. TIP has been working with operators to create a certification and badging framework to validate market-ready solutions.

The UK is looking to become a leader in telecoms diversification, and incubate home-grown innovations, particularly for the RIC, that will bring about new use cases that ultimately benefit consumers and businesses. TIP has used previous UK funding to accelerate the testing of interoperable RAN solutions, and this funding is another important step towards the open goal.”

Successful projects will run until the end of March 2025.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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