Digital Catapult unveils five companies to explore the potential of Open RAN technology on its SONIC Labs testbed

Posted on 20 Jul 2022 by The Manufacturer

Digital Catapult, working in partnership with Ofcom, has given five companies the opportunity to accelerate the development of their Open RAN products, through becoming part of the next phase of its SONIC Labs programme.

SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs is a two-year programme from Digital Catapult and Ofcom, funded by DCMS, 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.

Digital Catapult will help the five organisations to integrate their Open RAN products into working end to end systems, by enabling testing in indoor mobile network settings. The programme is creating a collaborative environment for testing how easily different Open RAN products, solutions and services from multiple vendors can integrate and exchange information.

The organisations – all 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.

Joe Butler, Chief Technology Officer at Digital Catapult, said: “We’re pleased to provide our leading technical expertise and lab facilities to help these five companies 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.”  

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. 

Digital Infrastructure Minister, Matt Warman, said: “We’re funding SONIC Labs to lead the development of a new breed of telecoms technology which will strengthen our 5G networks and supply chains so they’re fit for the future.

“It is just one of the ways our £250m strategy is opening up the UK market to a diverse and innovative variety of suppliers to build and maintain our telecoms networks.”

Sachin Jogia, Ofcom’s Chief Technology Officer, said:  “SONIC Labs gives these five companies a great opportunity to test their technology in a real-world environment. So we’re really looking forward to working with them – and Digital Catapult – to see how this innovative technology operates, what lessons can be learned and how it could help shape the telecoms supply chains of the future.”

Rafal Sanecki, Marketing Executive from IS-Wireless, a company participating in the SONIC Labs programme, said: “We are joining the programme to confirm the readiness of our 5G offer. It’s a perfect opportunity to test the end-to-end solution and integrate with our partners products – in the spirit of Open RAN model. We want to prove that we are ready to work with both: customers for private 5G networks as well as with mobile operators.”

Read more of our Digital Transformation articles here