Government announces £88 million investment in 19 UK 5G Open Network Projects

Future proofing the UK’s mobile network connectivity, the government last week announced a £88 million R&D investment boost towards innovative connectivity. 

Funding has been awarded to 19 projects in the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) competition. These projects will demonstrate how Open RAN (Radio Access Network) technologies can deliver and sustain future-proofed connectivity across the UK. 

techUK continue to hear from members that connectivity must be improved in places with the greatest demand on mobile service, including cities, large venues, airports, and stadiums. The investment announced today will enable successful projects to develop technological solutions to improve connectivity in these busy locations. 

Specifically, the ONE competition was designed to demonstrate how innovative ways of building mobile networks can deliver fast and reliable connectivity in busy places. Cutting edge open hardware and software like Open RAN will enable different companies’ technology to work together, creating a more agile and improved network. 

Running until March 2025, the 19 projects will initiate trials of open 5G networks across the country, in:  

  • major urban centres in Glasgow, Cambridge, Liverpool, Bath, and the City of London  
  • iconic sports and entertainment venues including Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, the National eSport Arena, Cambridge Corn Exchange, and Shelsley Walsh motorsport venue  
  • the historic seaside resorts of Blackpool and Worthing  

It is also hoped that this research will help to make the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure in remote and hard to reach areas more efficient, cost effective and sustainable. 

The news also included endorsements from the UK’s four mobile network operators of the UK’s Open RAN principles, and a reaffirmation of the MNO’s ambition for 35% of the UK’s network traffic to pass through open and interoperable RAN technologies by 2030. 

techUK would like to congratulate members involved in successful projects, including: Mavenir, VMWare UK Limited, BT, Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, Arqit UK Limited, HLC Technologies UK Limited, Accenture UK Ltd, ARM, Vodafone, Keysight Technologies UK, Dassault Systemes, Qualcomm, ITS Technology Group, NEC Europe Ltd, Intel, Freshwave Services Limited, Cisco, AMD, Capgemini UK PLC, Three, Boldyn Networks Infrastructure. 

Sophie James, Head of Telecoms and Spectrum Policy at techUK: 

This funding marks a commitment from the government to tackle the adoption barriers for open mobile networks. Investment will support many techUK members to continue delivering resilient and future-proofed connectivity that drives economic growth across the whole of the UK.  

With continued research and development funding, industry can continue to drive investment and innovation to enable further adoption of open networks. 

Sophie James

Sophie James

Head of Telecoms and Spectrum Policy, techUK

Mia Haffety

Programme Manager - Telecoms and Net Zero, techUK

Tales Gaspar

Tales Gaspar

Programme Manager, UK SPF and Satellite, techUK

Matthew Wild

Programme Assistant - Markets, techUK


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