UK Government joins open RAN roar at Mobile World Congress

The UK government is looking to build a stronger telecoms supply chain, centered on open network systems like Open RAN, after the head of a body set up to increase diversity in the industry admitted the industry’s chain of innovation had been “broken”. is.

The UK government wants to boost the open networking movement (Photo by TPROduction/Shutterstock)

Speaking at Mobile World Congress, Nick Johnson, head of the UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN), said his organization aims to establish a more connected approach, bringing together industry and academia to create the next generation of network devices and software to develop.

Open RAN was a big topic at Mobile World Congress, with many major vendors announcing new products and partnerships as the open networking movement gathers momentum.

UK telecoms innovation chain ‘broken’

UKTIN was announced last year with a mandate to support telecoms companies in R&D projects and collaborations aimed at developing new and improved technologies for the UK’s mobile and broadband networks. It also offers advice and access to funding.

Johnson told guests at a Mobile World Congress reception: “There has been a great deal of evidence over the years that the UK innovation chain – that is, the research and development conducted by universities and companies and the alignment of these Research and development on the goals of the customer base – is broken.

“People essentially work on small islands of activity without a guideline. UKTIN’s main goal is to ensure people get back together and to focus on sensible targets for the global customer base.”

How open networks can help

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The government’s attempt to change this, led by UKTIN, will focus on the value to be found in the development of open networks – telecommunications devices using standards and protocols accessible to all providers, large and small. In theory, this offers greater opportunities for collaboration.

Last year ministers announced a £250m Open Networks R&D Fund to accelerate the development and deployment of open interface architectures such as Open RAN, for which the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology will be responsible.

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Imran Shafi, Government Director for Digital Infrastructure, told delegates: “We in the UK have a common goal of one third of our data traffic being carried over interoperable networks by the end of the decade and we have committed to that with mobile operators.

“We want to work closely with new and existing vendors to advance this agenda and collaborate with our partners from around the world because we know we cannot solve this challenge alone.

OpenRAN projects dominating Mobile World Congress

Open networking was a frequent topic of conversation at this year’s Mobile World Congress, which ended today in Barcelona.

Many vendors chose to focus on open radio access networks or open RAN. The radio access network is a key component of 5G and other wireless networks, providing the infrastructure that underpins the network and allows software and devices to communicate with each other.

While RAN has traditionally been delivered via proprietary technology from large hardware companies, the Open RAN movement is attempting to develop a set of open standards that vendors can use as a starting point for their products.

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Announcements at the conference included a partnership between Qualcomm and Dell to develop a virtualized distributed unit (vDU) solution to accelerate the efficient deployment of next-generation, high-capacity 5G networks.

By combining Dell PowerEdge servers, purpose-built for open telecom networks and the edge, with Qualcomm’s X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card, the companies say they aim to provide a high-performance, cost-effective, and energy-efficient solution for OEMs and operators looking to virtualize and Open RAN solutions.

“This expanded collaboration signals a significant next step in the development and commercialization of fully open and virtualized 5G networks,” said Durga Malladi, senior vice president and general manager, cellular modems and infrastructure, Qualcomm Technologies. “By working with Dell, we will help accelerate global adoption of next-generation 5G mobile infrastructure, enabling operators to meet performance requirements at the edge and deliver enhanced user experiences.”

Dennis Hoffman, senior vice president and general manager of Dell Technologies’ telecom systems business, added, “Our common vDU platform will provide carriers with an integrated but open way to realize the full potential of open RAN technologies.”