U.K. funds 19 5G open RAN projects with $109 million

The U.K. government recently allocated approximately $109 million (£88 million) in funding for 19 projects as part of the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) competition. The 19 successful projects will demonstrate the reliability and feasibility of open radio access network (open RAN) technologies.

The projects will conduct trials of 5G open networks across prominent U.K. locations, including major urban centers in Glasgow, Cambridge, Liverpool, Bath and London; several sports and entertainment venues; as well the seaside resorts of Blackpool and Worthing.

The projects will run until March 2025. They are part of the government’s Open Networks Research and Development Fund, dedicated to building secure and resilient communications infrastructure.

Major mobile network operators, including BT/EE, Three UK, Virgin Media O2, and Vodafone have endorsed the U.K.’s Open RAN principles. And the government and mobile operators have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ambition for 35% of the U.K.’s network traffic to pass through open RAN technologies by 2030.

The ONE competition is part of the U.K. government’s nearly $309 million (£250 million) 5G telecoms supply chain diversification strategy.

ONE was launched in March 2023 and provides financial support to organizations to develop open RAN technologies. 

The U.K. government’s announcement follows Vodafone’s recent start of open RAN equipment installation at 2,500 sites in Wales and the South-West of England.