UK government announces £88 million investment in connectivity R&D


The investment will aid the UK’s aim to be a global leader in telecoms research and development 

The UK government has announced an £88 million investment in open 5G open network solutions across the country. 

The funding has been awarded to 19 successful projects through the Open Networks Ecosystem competition, which aims to find new solutions for the delivery of mobile phone data in densely populated places, such as tourist hotspots or sports stadiums. In areas such as these, the simultaneous use of many devices can create issues for mobile operators, as they are handling high levels of traffic. 

The 19 successful projects will demonstrate the reliability and usability of Open RAN technologies, highlighting how they can bring resilient connectivity to UK citizens and businesses.  

Instead of using only one company’s equipment, Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN) allows different companies’ technology to work together, allowing for a better and more flexible network. 

“Whether you’re in a busy city centre or a rural village, a fast and reliable mobile connection is vital to staying in touch, accessing services and doing business,” said Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure. 

“In order to secure that, we need to embrace a diverse and secure range of technology that will underpin the network”

“The projects we’re backing today with £88 million in government research and development investment will use innovative Open RAN solutions to make our mobile networks more adaptable and resilient, with future-proofed technology to support bringing lightning-fast connections across the country for many years to come”. 

The successful projects will run until March 2025 in major urban areas such as London, Glasgow and Liverpool, large events venues such as Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, and seaside resorts of Blackpool and Worthing.  

The four major mobile network operators in the UK: EE, Three, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone, have all endorsed the UK’s Open RAN principles, which aims for 35% of the UK’s network traffic to pass through open and interoperable Radio Access Network (RAN) technologies by 2030, which has been affirmed by a Memorandum of Understanding. 

“The Government’s funding to tackle adoption barriers of open mobile networks is another significant contribution to the telecoms industry, and once again highlights the important role the sector plays in driving connectivity and economic growth in the UK,” said Nick Johnson, Head of UKTIN. 

“Building a diversified telecoms infrastructure in the UK is crucial to unlocking opportunities for growth and creating a prosperous future. The projects announced today, in support of that mission, will both deliver exciting innovations and consider how to overcome some of the tricky but important challenges to wide-scale deployments.” 

The full list of successful projects can be found here. 

Hear from Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, at this year’s Connected Britain in his day one ministerial address. It’s not too late to get tickets – grab yours now!

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Connected Britain 2023: the keynote panel agenda
Intelsat reaches teleport network deal with Italy’s Telespazio
T-Mobile signs spectrum deal with Comcast worth up to $3.3 billion 

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