26 Mar 2021

Guest Blog: Connect into SONIC with Digital Catapult and Ofcom

SONIC is the SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre (SONIC), a joint activity between Digital Catapult and Ofcom to create a platform for existing and emerging suppliers to test interoperability and integration of open and software centric networking solutions, starting with Open RAN.   Sonic will grow to couple laboratory capabilities with real world indoor and outdoor deployments, and also move beyond Open RAN into other maturing and emerging technology areas, such as edge, hybrid-cloud, spectrum sharing models, non-cellular technologies and architectures and more.

SONIC has three main objectives. Firstly to examine the reality of Open RAN to facilitate open interoperability in mobile networks, including standards sufficiency, vendor support and interpretation of those standards and performance in realistic use cases. Secondly to enable and encourage innovative vendors to participate in the UK ecosystem and facilitate a more rapid path towards innovation in UK networks. Finally to also evaluate critical and longer-term advanced technologies, in mobile, fixed and media networks, such as those identified in Ofcom’s Technology Futures report.

SONIC is bringing together multiple 5G Open RAN deployments to enable the investigation of product use across multiple architectures and integration models.  The solution providers taking part include Accelleran NV, Phluido Inc, Effnet AB, Benetel Ltd, Mavenir, Foxconn, NEC and Radisys.  These vendors are working together to build new products and solutions, learning and sharing best practice.      

SONIC is funded by the UK government as part of the 5G Diversification Strategy to help achieve a vision of a more open, competitive and diverse telecoms supply chain.  This vision leads to more complexity, and a greater requirement for integration and interoperability, and SONIC has been developed to address these challenges for vendors and operators of all sizes.  It will enable SONIC to demonstrate and foster a disaggregated network ecosystem in the UK with multiple suppliers for each element in the technology stack. 

SONIC is a neutral platform to facilitate experimentation and interoperability and implementability testing, across licensed and shared spectrum bands to begin with.  Through building a scale real world network SONIC will enable further innovations such as network algorithms to be developed encouraging innovation and performance testing. 

SONIC’s success will be in fostering a fully interoperable disaggregated supply chain in the UK with multiple vendors at each element.  Additional benefits will be seen in encouraging growth and investment in the UK telecoms sector and developing expertise in the UK for future open, disaggregated and software centric networks.  

Vendors, solution providers and integrators are encouraged to get involved and can register interest here:  https://www.digicatapult.org.uk/for-startups/other-programmes/sonic. The centre will be live in May.

Guest blog by Joe Butler, Chief Technology Officer, Digital Catapult. Follow Digital Catapult on Twitter and LinkedIn

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