The U.K. government announced it will make available up to $95 million in R&D funding for competing ideas and proposals to address key barriers to adoption of open mobile networks, Mobile World Live reported.
The funding is part of a $300 million pot reserved for open networks R&D, which backs the 5G Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Strategy that the government launched in 2020. That initiative was established in the aftermath of the U.K.’s decision to ban Chinese vendor Huawei from next generation networks. The fund is intended to boost investments in open RAN technology and to create more sources of network equipment supply.
The Open Networks Ecosystem competition will allocate the $95 million in three areas:
- High-density demand sites, deemed the most technically challenging RAN environments. The idea is to develop, and test approaches for optimizing open RAN network performance in these critical areas.
- Radio frequency components including hardware, chipsets, and RF technology.
- Software development in the RAN Intelligent Controller and other components.
Julia Lopez, U.K. Minister of State for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said R&D competition contributes to fostering world-class talent “to boost domestic development of next-generation telecoms technology such as open RAN.”
The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) has already benefited from U.K. government funding in this area, having received $2.8 million to accelerate 5G RAN Intelligence in 2021.
Commenting on the latest move, TIP executive director Kristian Toivo said the U.K. is heavily invested in a more open ecosystem and “blueprints to develop, demonstrate and test approaches that are commercially ready for operators [are] vital to the success of open networks.” He adds, “TIP has used previous U.K. funding to accelerate the testing of interoperable RAN solutions and this funding is another important step towards the open goal.”