UK Government commits £110 million to levelling up UK telecoms R&D

The UK Government has committed to boosting 5G and 6G research with a £110 million fund.

The fund has granted £80 million to the establishment of a lab in Solihull in the West Midlands, which allow the testing of network equipment and solutions for both 5G and 6G.

£28 million meanwhile will go directly to the winners of the Future Open Networks Research Challenge, which has successfully encouraged partnerships between UK universities and major telecoms companies, including infrastructure providers Ericsson and Samsung. The goals of this investment include opening up and diversifying the UK’s telecoms infrastructure through both Open-RAN development and through the design of future 6G.

The funds show that UK Government’s target to have 35% of all mobile traffic handled by open architecture by 2030, combined with the UK Government’s commitment to supporting and expanding the UK’s world role in science and technology, represents a great opportunity for technological innovation and enterprise.

The commitment of £80 million for the UK telecoms lab in Solihull, the awarding of £4.8 million to a largely Yorkshire-based Open-RAN project, and the support for the TUDOR project’s belief in the ability of open networks to close the digital divide, further shows that the telecoms sector is essential for the UK’s levelling up goals.

The Government have also announced the outcome of the UK and Republic of Korea Open RAN R&D Collaboration competition, whereby consortia based in the UK and South Korea will collaborate to develop more power-efficient technical equipment. With unprecedented energy prices remaining in the news this Winter, this is a crucial issue for all telcos. This is why techUK has been hosting our roundtable series on energy efficient telecoms networks, which you can visit our series page to find out more about.

Below is a summary of each of the competition winners, including the three programmes that will split the £28 million available for Open-RAN research and the UK winner of the UK-Republic of Korea joint venture.

We wish to congratulate all the techUK members who were part of winning projects, who can be found below, on their success.

Winner of the UK and Republic of Korea Open RAN R&D Collaboration competition

£1.2 million was awarded as part of this competition.

A single United Kingdom consortium, Flexi-DAS, won this competition. Flexi-DAS will work with Korean consortia SOLiD and RFHIC to develop new Open-RAN products and solutions, focusing on power-efficient technologies. Flexi-DAS, will develop Distributed Antenna System radio units.

techUK members part of this consortium include:

  • BAI Communications
  • VMO2

Winners of the Future Open Networks Research Challenge

Realising Enabling Architectures and Solutions for Open Networks (REASON)

REASON was awarded £12 million.

This research project will involve designing and developing technologies and solutions for future 6G networks, culminating on a 6G architectures roadmap. This will include unprecedented network densification technologies and advanced network automation via AI.

techUK members involved include:

  • BT
  • Ericsson
  • Samsung
  • Real Wireless Ltd.
  • Thales UK

Towards Ubiquitous 3D Open Resilient Network Aims (TUDOR)

TUDOR was awarded £12 million.

TUDOR is based on the premise open networks provide a solution for societal and economic issues, including the digital divide, and will look at how open network components can be seamlessly integrated into wider RAN, core and network equipment, as part of terrestrial, airborne and satellite equipment.

techUK members involved include:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • BAE Systems
  • BT
  • Ericsson
  • Mavenir
  • OneWeb
  • Toshiba
  • VMO2
  • Satellite Applications Catapult
  • Qualcomm

Yorkshire Open-RAN (Yo-RAN)

YO-RAN was awarded £4.8 million

Yorkshire Open-RAN will bring together leading Yorkshire universities, as well as a number of both local and national suppliers, to develop Open RAN components, including RAN intelligent controllers for neutral host networks and low-cost Radio Units with configural multiband capabilities. This will both serve to improve connectivity in Yorkshire while also growing the telecoms sector in the county.

techUK members involved include:

  • BT
  • Cellnex

 


 

Sophie Greaves

Sophie Greaves

Head of Telecoms and Spectrum Policy, techUK

Mia Haffety

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