Boosting innovation in 5G and 6G with new technology partnership

The UK government is facilitating innovation in 5G and 6G through new plans that will see the launch of a telecoms technology partnership between the UK and South Korea.

This novel government boost will pave the way for 5G and 6G innovation, enable the development of secure and resilient telecoms networks, and ensure that at future mobile phone networks have a greater range of technologies and suppliers.

As part of this plan to fuel innovation in the sector, universities and telecoms companies have been invited to apply for funding of up to £25m to research and develop the next generation of 5G and 6G network equipment.

The Future Open Networks Research Challenge

The Future Open Networks Research Challenge has been designed to facilitate both academics and industry experts to perform early-stage research into open and interoperable telecoms solutions, including Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN), for use in 5G and future networks such as 6G.

The government is fast-tracking the advancement of this technology – which enables operators to utilise a variety of equipment instead of depending on a single supplier when constructing or maintaining networks – as part of its £250m Open Networks R&D Fund. It intends to build more reliable and resilient broadband and mobile infrastructure by increasing competition and innovation within the telecoms supply chain.

It comes as £10m has been granted to launch the UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN), a new body committed to enhancing creativity in the country’s telecoms supply chain.

Innovation in 5G and 6G technology

The UKTIN will play a role of an information and ideas hub for industry and academics seeking access to funding or R&D testing facilities and opportunities to work collaboratively on developing new mobile and broadband technology.

It has been announced today, 26 July 2022, that Digital Catapult, CW (Cambridge Wireless), University of Bristol and West Midlands 5G have won the competition to set up and oversee the network.

In an additional boost to the industry, the UK will invest £1.6m in a joint-funded £3.6m competition with the Republic of Korea to collaborate on a world-first R&D project to accelerate the development of Open RAN technology.

Collaboration between the UK and South Korea

Both countries will fund a group of several companies to work together to accelerate the development of technical solutions to improve power efficiency in Open RAN networks. Power consumption is a major operating cost, so the work will support wider adoption of Open RAN technologies, reduce operating costs and support net zero ambitions.

“The seamless connectivity and blistering speeds of 5G and then 6G will power a tech revolution which will enrich people’s lives and fire up productivity across the economy,” commented Matt Warman, Digital Infrastructure Minister.

“It is why we are investing millions and partnering with international allies to unleash innovation and develop new ways to make these networks more secure, resilient and less reliant on a handful of suppliers.”

A strong mobile ecosystem

“Mobile UK welcomes today’s announcement. A strong, diverse mobile ecosystem in the UK will be a cornerstone of the country’s future prosperity and well-being,” concluded Hamish MacLeod, Chief Executive at Mobile UK.

“The measures announced today offer further opportunities to build on the UK’s thriving R&D into advanced telecoms, and enabling operators to access more diversity in the supply chain while enhancing security and innovation.”

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