Given the potential opportunities for innovation in the Open RAN ecosystem, the UK is investing in a range of research, development and testing projects - both government and industry funded - to accelerate progress at every level in these key and interlinked areas.
The supply of equipment into mobile telecoms networks has traditionally required huge investment and been challenging for new entrants due to proprietary interfaces between key equipment elements and the “hardening” of network functionality into bespoke chipsets embedded in equipment.
Addressing these challenges are two key developments in mobile networks: Open RAN standards defining key equipment interfaces, and network virtualisation where network functions are increasingly implemented in software and decoupled from hardware.
Both of these factors are still in relatively early stages and raise different challenges at all levels in radio access networks, from the antenna through to the core network. To accelerate progress in these key and interlinked areas, a range of research and deployment projects are taking place across the UK. A key component of this is the UK Government’s £250m Open Networks R&D Fund.