New DCMS competition for Open RAN product development
A £30 million competition has been launched by DCMS to fund innovative R&D projects to help develop new wireless communication technology. Entitled FRANC (Future RAN Competition), the initiative will award funding to tech and telecoms innovators to accelerate the development and deployment of viable Open RAN products for the UK’s public 5G mobile networks.
The goal is to encourage new equipment to enter the UK’s telecoms supply chain and create a stronger case for government and business investment in new mobile technology.
Proposals could include exploring issues around power efficiency, the management of spectral resource, the availability of advanced software platforms, systems integration and security. The government hopes the competition will foster new research collaboration between international and new homegrown players in the UK’s public telecoms networks.
Today's announcement is another positive step in driving forward the UK's telecoms diversification agenda, with concrete action to help support the development of innovative new products for our mobile network infrastructure. It is a clear signal that the UK has a world-leading market in which to innovate and invest, as well as spurring the opportunity for UK tech companies, SMEs and academia to take advantage of this growing global market. We find ourselves at the start of a challenging period of time, with pressure on rolling out 5G at pace whilst ensuring our networks are resilient, secure and future proof. That's why it's important that government bring forward further plans on supporting open and disaggregated networks, from technical standards to a long term R&D roadmap.
The deadline for applications for the FRANC is 27 August 2021, with winning projects expected to be announced in the autumn.
Government responds to Telecoms Diversification Taskforce report
DCMS has also made two further announcements. Firstly, it has issued its high level response to the recommendations made by the independent industry group, the Telecoms Diversification Taskforce, which published its findings in April 2021. The response outlines how it will forward the taskforce’s recommendations across four areas as well as its activity to date.
Secondly, the Taskforce will be renamed the Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Advisory Council, and will be led by new chair Simon Blagden. The Council will be permanent external independent body to advise on the delivery of the diversification strategy and wider related issues, including potential supply chain issues in other telecoms equipment such as fixed broadband.
Diversifying Telecoms Week 2021
From 22 to 26 March, techUK members, stakeholders and industry experts came together to explore topics and themes in telecoms diversification, and the future of the UK's networks.
techUK's Communications Infrastructure Programme brings together government, the regulator, telecom companies and its stakeholders around four themes; shared infrastructure, security and resilience, unlicensed spectrum and our 5G ecosystem. We do so to lower the cost to the sector of deployment, ensure confidence in networks, spur innovation and unlock value for all parties in 5G. This is delivered through a mix of thought leadership, multilateral engagement and ecosystem building.