Recent months have shown us how important resilient, high-quality telecoms networks are to our economic and social well-being.
The Government’s recent decision to remove Huawei from the UK’s 5G networks by 2027 was accompanied by the announcement of a three-pronged approach to diversification. This is to ensure that the UK is not left depending solely on the other two major telecoms vendors – Ericsson and Nokia – who can provide products from 2G to 5G.
To ensure the approach to diversification is as effective as possible, a new task force has been appointed, led by Lord Ian Livingston of Parkhead, which will drive forward ongoing work to diversify the UK’s telecoms supply chain and reduce reliance on high-risk vendors.
The Telecoms Diversification Task Force will look at ways to develop the capability of the UK's vibrant and innovative telecoms sector, such as how to incentivise research and development in the sector, and accelerating the development of open and interoperable equipment which can be used by multiple vendors, such as OpenRAN.
While Open RAN equipment is still sub-1% of global telecoms sales, its development could allow the break-up of the traditional monolithic telecoms architecture into interoperable sub-systems, with different vendors providing differing parts of the system. Not only could this dramatically improve the resilience of the UK’s vendor supply base, it could also open the way for the UK to lead in the development of this global trend. As an enabler for change in how mobile networks are built and operate, questions will need to be asked about the security of Open RAN too.
Private networks are also an important innovation in helping to unlock the value that 5G can deliver. They can also be at the forefront of the UK’s push to diversify its supply chain through disaggregated networks in both the core and RAN. Often unencumbered by legacy equipment and requiring greater flexibility than is offered by traditional vendors, private networks could be at the forefront of this diversification push whilst enhancing their own offering.
techUK's Diversifying Telecoms event series – Autumn 2020
techUK is exploring the opportunities and challenges of diversifying the UK’s telecoms supply chain, including what is needed in terms of R&D funding, more mature standards and demand side changes to supercharge the UK’s telecoms supplier base. Our Diversifying Telecoms event series will explore these issues and more. We hope to see you at an upcoming event:
- Event round-up of Diversifying Telecoms: The potential of Open RAN on 7 September 2020
- Diversifying Telecoms: Options for the UK on Tuesday 20 October
- Event round-up — Diversifying Telecoms: What are the options for the UK?
- Diversifying telecoms: The innovation landscape and economic opportunities for the UK on Tuesday 24 November
techUK’s Diversifying Telecoms event series is organised through our Telecoms Resilience and Security Working Group. To find out more about the work of techUK’s Communications Infrastructure Programme, click here.