Government announces new ‘Open RAN principles’

Guidelines support the development of new Open RAN equipment which allows providers to ‘mix and match’ solutions
Government announces new ‘Open RAN principles’

The UK government has announced a new set of Open RAN (radio access network) guidelines which it claims will attract new telecoms suppliers to the 5G supply chain and ensure access to Open RAN across the UK.

The guidelines have been created to support the development of new Open RAN equipment led by telecoms kit which allows providers to ‘mix and match’ solutions from multiple vendors in way that the government suggested is not possible under current network setups.

Announcing the creation of the new principles at the Open RAN World event in Berlin, Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said it was “the right time” to set guidelines to provide “a guide to industry to ensure the Open RAN tech being developed and deployed in the UK will work in the interests of British citizens and business”.

The document highlights four key principles for Open RAN development: open disaggregation of RAN elements; standards-based compliance; interoperability of all disaggregated elements ; and implementation neutrality.

Lopez added: “With so much momentum behind Open RAN, now is the right time to set these principles so industry and governments can take a common approach to developing and deploying this technology, so it delivers on its promise to disrupt the market and spark a wave of innovation and competition in telecoms.”

The new guidelines build on the government’s previously announced joint ambition made with leading UK mobile network operators (MNOs) for 35% of mobile network traffic to pass through Open RAN by the end of the decade alongside £50m funding to support the development of new Open RAN solutions.

Vodafone has pledged its support to the new guidelines having activated a small number of 4G Open RAN sites in 2021, as well as turning on the UK’s first 5G Open RAN site earlier this year.

Scott Petty, chief digital and IT officer at Vodafone, said: “Vodafone is taking a leading role in the development and rollout of Open RAN, which will be a central part of our long-term network evolution and resilience. We welcome the government’s continued commitment to this innovative and exciting technology and look forward to accelerating the adoption of OpenRAN across the wider telecoms ecosystem.”