Digital Catapult, working in partnership with Ofcom, has given nine companies the opportunity to accelerate the development of their Open RAN products, through becoming part of the next phase of its SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs programme funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The companies include both UK and global Open RAN vendors new to the UK market, such as VVDN based in India, SOLiD headquartered in South Korea and ASOCS based in Israel, as well as six other companies with existing engagement in the UK market, namely: Accelleran, CableFree, Effnet, Phluido, Radisys and VMware.
Digital Catapult will work with the organisations to integrate their Open RAN products into working end to end systems and conduct interoperability and performance testing in an indoor environment. The nine companies are the second group of organisations to gain access to SONIC Labs, with the first group of companies announced earlier this year.
The SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs programme aims 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.
This phase of the programme will focus on system integration, exploring Ran Intelligence Controller (RIC) maturity, and investigating ARM-based Open RAN Implementations. Three organisations (ASOCS, Accelleran and Radisys) will play the role of a System Integrator and will be responsible for End to End Interoperability, benchmarking and swapability experimentation. The System Integrators will lead the installation of software and firmware, as well as capturing optimisations and performance improvement measures.
All nine 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.