Digital Catapult, working in partnership with Ofcom, has given nine companies the opportunity to accelerate the development of their Open RAN products, through becoming part of the next phase of its SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs programme funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The companies include both UK and global Open RAN vendors new to the UK market, such as VVDN based in India, SOLiD headquartered in South Korea and ASOCS based in Israel, as well as six other companies with existing engagement in the UK market, namely: Accelleran, CableFree, Effnet, Phluido, Radisys and VMware.
Digital Catapult will work with the organisations to integrate their Open RAN products into working end to end systems and conduct interoperability and performance testing in an indoor environment. The nine companies are the second group of organisations to gain access to SONIC Labs, with the first group of companies announced earlier this year.
The SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs programme aims to allow new solution providers to enter the telecoms supply chain in the UK. It will drive forward the rollout of a new wireless communication technology known as Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN), which enables mobile networks to be built using a variety of different equipment suppliers.
This phase of the programme will focus on system integration, exploring Ran Intelligence Controller (RIC) maturity, and investigating ARM-based Open RAN Implementations. Three organisations (ASOCS, Accelleran and Radisys) will play the role of a System Integrator and will be responsible for End to End Interoperability, benchmarking and swapability experimentation. The System Integrators will lead the installation of software and firmware, as well as capturing optimisations and performance improvement measures.
All nine Open RAN vendors will share best practices around the implementation of Open RAN standards, solve specific Open RAN integration problems, collaborate with new partners to create knowledge, and even have the chance to showcase their products to potential customers and end-users.
Accelerating the adoption of Open RAN technology has the potential to diversify the UK 5G supply chain so it is fit for the future – making it more secure and accessible for new market entrants.
The SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs programme aims to allow new solution providers to enter the telecoms supply chain in the UK
Joe Butler, Chief Technology Officer at Digital Catapult, said: “We’re delighted to be introducing additional Open RAN products from vendors across the globe to this phase of the SONIC Labs programme. We’ll be extending our leading technical expertise and lab facilities to help these nine companies to test their Open RAN products and solutions and support them on their route to market.
“Through our SONIC Labs programme we’re helping to foster innovation across the telecoms sector – diversifying the 5G supply chain market in the UK and delivering fast, secure and reliable connectivity.”
Julia Lopez, Digital Infrastructure Minister, said: “We are investing £250 million to boost competition in the telecoms market and drive the development of new mobile technology. This will lead to faster, more resilient and more secure digital networks which revolutionise people’s lives and make businesses more productive.
“Thanks to our funding for SONIC Labs, even more companies are coming on board to help deliver this aim and put the UK at the forefront of telecoms innovation.”
Arnaud Polster, Chief Sales Officer at Accelleran, said: “We continue to be excited by the results we see coming out of the SONIC labs programme. Accelleran is fully aligned with the programme’s objectives of creating a diversified and open 5G supply chain. Accelleran’s Cloud Native CU, RIC developer platform, systems integration capabilities are a cornerstone of achieving this aim. For the second cohort, we will also be integrating a 3rd party combined RU/DU into the solution, further solidifying our position as a leader in the development of a diversified Open RAN ecosystem.”
Alongside access to Digital Catapult’s advanced facilities and technical support, participants will also have the opportunity to take part in thought-leadership events throughout and beyond the six-month technical programme and will benefit from networking opportunities and targeted innovation activities to accelerate their route to commercialisation.
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