Increasingly, Open RAN equipment has been making it through the phases of R&D, interoperability testing and into real deployments.
The UK has traditionally been strong in small cell technology development, in-building solutions and alternative neutral host deployment models. These are areas that have overlap with Open RAN product development and have given the UK a strong start in entering the Open RAN equipment and services market.
The UK regulator Ofcom is also recognised internationally as creating the right environment for competition and innovation in the telecommunications market.
Indeed the UK's Open RAN ecosystem already contains a range of companies offering both Open RAN equipment and services related to Open RAN deployments. Alongside this we have also seen early stage Open RAN deployments in the UK.
UK Open Network RAN Equipment Vendors, Service and Solution Providers, and Deployments
Open RAN equipment is already available from a range of UK companies and at various component levels within Open RAN networks. A selection of example companies from our Supplier Directory are given here:
Antennas and radio units
Distributed and Centralised units
Core network and network management software
Key to successful open RAN deployments is the ability to integrate products from a range of vendors and still manage and operate the network successfully.
UK based organisations providing integration and operation of Open RAN networks include:
- Telet Research
- Virgin O2
- Wireless Infrastructure Group
- Shared Access
- Arqit (network security)
Whilst at an early stage, there have already been some small scale deployments of Open RAN networks in the UK. These include:
- Vodafone’s commitment to deploy 2,500 Open RAN sites in the UK by 2030 and the switch on of their first Open RAN site in Bath in January 2022.
- BT Labs’ involvement in four of the FRANC projects with some of these planned to be deployed on a small scale at their Adastral Park TEAC facility.
- Virgin Media O2's involvement in the 5G DRIVE project alongside the launch of an Open RAN neutral host in-building network with Vilicom and Open RAN trial with NEC.