The UK government-backed £1m SONIC Labs will help speed up the adoption of ‘Open RAN’ technology, which is considered to be a key pillar of the government’s 5G Diversification Strategy.
This strategy intends to build a secure and innovative supply chain that can cater to the future, is less reliant on a small number of multinational suppliers and more accessible for new market entrants.
The lab will serve as a real-world testing facility that intends to bring in several providers to supply components for 5G radio equipment.
Open RAN technology will bring to an end to situations where only one supplier’s technology can be used for a telecoms network to function.
With its base in London and Brighton, SONIC Labs will allow telecoms equipment manufacturers to analyse how their kit behaves in a completely interoperable, technology-neutral mobile network.
It also intends to encourage vendors to foray into the UK telecoms supply chain and drive innovation in public networks.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “I’m thrilled that SONIC Labs is opening its doors to the wealth of telecoms expertise we have in this country to explore new ways of building 5G networks.
“Our investment is a crucial element of our strategy to tackle the world’s over-reliance on a small number of telecoms vendors by growing our own cutting-edge solutions at home.
“I look forward to seeing how the lab will help deliver the incredible social and economic benefits of new technology for people around the UK.”
The lab is being operated by Ofcom and Digital Catapult, which have developed the facility using current Digital Catapult infrastructure and capability, £1m of seed funding from DCMS, and a bespoke SONIC Labs branch as part of Ofcom’s Innovation Lab in Riverside House.
SONIC Labs will work with a diverse range of vendors to explore new open approaches to telecoms networks, including Accelleran, Mavenir, Radisys, Benetel, Phluido, Druid and Effnet.