This competition will support the UK’s infrastructure innovation ecosystem to play a leading role transforming the UK telecoms market, and encourage more private sector innovation to help unlock opportunities for UK businesses to play a role in the emerging global supply chain based on open standards.
Future RAN is an open competition, run by DCMS, that will allocate up to £30 million of R&D funding to projects that support the goals of the Government’s 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy. The competition is aimed at helping to incentivise industry to create new products and services to unlock the full potential of Open RAN.
This competition is open to applications from consortia with two or more members with funding available for activity taking place in the UK. Organisations which do not have a UK presence may participate in the delivery of projects but will not be eligible to receive DCMS funding. However, DCMS welcomes proposals that have an international outlook, building upon existing UK strengths and partnering with non-UK organisations to develop globally-viable business models.
High risk vendors (HRVs) are not permitted to participate in consortia as a consortium partner or supplier.
Grants ranging from £250,000 to £5 million will be made available to individual projects lasting up to 18 months.
This competition is part of a wide-ranging government response to the challenge of diversifying the UK’s supply market for radio equipment set out in the Diversification Strategy. The Diversification Strategy calls for the establishment of a UK wide R&D ecosystem spanning a range of areas including: the development of physical hardware; software/virtualised solutions; testing with live networks; and accelerating and pulling forward the development of interoperable technologies.
There is already an ecosystem taking shape through private sector funding. However, this competition will help to harness that momentum and promote collaboration and convene the strengths of the UK’s R&D sectors to pull in the same direction and towards the goals of the diverse supply chain the UK needs to ensure its national security and resilience.
Projects applying to this competition are expected to address one or more of the priority objectives for development set out below. Achieving these objectives will catalyse the development of Open RAN solutions relevant to the UK market, with a view to accelerating the diversification of the UK’s 5G supply chain by making interoperable technologies a viable alternative to traditional deployments. Projects are not expected to target all objectives and may prioritise some over others.
Ultimately, these projects should help develop products that resolve the top challenges posed by new, interoperable technologies that support open standards, high security standards and develop initial UK capability in the Open RAN ecosystem to accelerate deployment of Open RAN solutions into UK networks.