In a bid to ensure the UK remains competitive in the development of cutting edge, wireless tech and telecoms security, the UK government has announced a £110 million research and development package for 5G and 6G innovation.
The first part of the investment will see £28 million go to three universities – University of York, University of Bristol and University of Surrey – to explore and developer future 6G network technologies. Global telecoms firms, such as Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung, will collaborate with these universities on this goal.
“This government investment will see top UK universities join forces with industry to develop the nuts and bolts underpinning new networks, create skilled jobs testing the security of the latest telecoms tech, and ensure our plan for a more diverse and innovative 5G market is sustained in the future,” said UK Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan.
A major £80 million investment will also be made to establish the modern UK Telecoms Lab in the West Midlands. When built, this facility is expected to be a secure location where mobile network operators, suppliers and academics can undertake a range of tests to better understand the resilience and performance of 5G technology.
“The Lab will bring a wide range of stakeholders together to drive innovation and create high quality new jobs for local people. With our tech sector already valued at over £15 billion, I cannot wait to see how this Lab helps to usher in an exciting future in the months and years ahead,” said Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands.
The final element of the investment is a new research and development partnership with the Republic of Korea that is set to boost the deployment of Open RAN and related technologies. Open RAN allows equipments from a number of suppliers to be mixed and matched within a network.
“It is a great pleasure to launch this UK-ROK Open RAN R and D Collaboration which will see Korean and British companies working together to develop innovative solutions to key Open RAN and telecoms challenges,” said President Sung Bae Jun of the Korean Institute for Information and Communications Technology Planning and Evaluation.
The importance to the UK of embracing Open RAN is clear, with the government currently pushing a £250 million strategy that seeks to build a more competitive telecoms supply chain that does not rely on a handful of companies to construct and maintain 5G networks.
This package of announcements was celebrated by Hamish MacLeod, Chief Executive of Mobile UK: “Mobile UK welcomes this package of announcements from the Government. International collaboration and investment in research and development of this kind are absolutely essential if the UK is to be a leader in the development of open networks that push for the highest standards of security, innovation and power efficiency.”