Ontix proud to be part of Connecting Cambridgeshire project for 5G Open RAN neutral host solutions

Ontix is excited to be working with Cambridgeshire County Council on its Connecting Cambridgeshire project, as part of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s Open Networks Ecosystem competition. We’re passionate about delivering cutting-edge, multi-vendor 5G Open RAN neutral host solutions to benefit areas of the UK and working alongside other partners to deliver community-oriented projects in Cambridgeshire is exactly that, as our CCO, Andy McKinnon says:

We are so pleased to be a part of the consortium, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, to partner on this project as part of the groundbreaking DSIT Open Networks Ecosystem competition. At Ontix we believe that open RAN neutral host solutions are key to ensuring reliable mobile coverage across the UK and we’re proud to be overcoming connectivity challenges using small cell solutions. Ontix installing small cells in densely populated areas of Cambridgeshire brings reliable, high-speed 5G connectivity to its residents and businesses, fostering innovation and economic growth. We are delighted that DSIT has recognised the importance of open RAN in boosting digital opportunities across the UK and are thankful to Cambridgeshire County Council for including Ontix in the project to achieve this.”

Below is more information on the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) competition:

£88 million research and development boost for innovative connectivity to future proof UK mobile network

  • Government announces £88 million investment in innovative open 5G connectivity solutions across the UK
  • Funding awarded to 19 projects through the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) competition – designed to demonstrate the feasibility and reliability of technology

Iconic sporting venues and tourism hotspots across the UK will see trials of new mobile tech designed to increase the resilience of the UK mobile network and ensure we are not overly reliant on any one form of technology, thanks to £88 million of UK Government R&D investment in innovative connectivity.

The 19 successful projects in the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) Competition will demonstrate the reliability and feasibility of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) technologies and showcase their role in delivering resilient and future-proofed connectivity to UK citizens and businesses. 

The ONE competition helps deliver on the UK’s ambition to be a global leader in telecoms research and development, through investment in cutting-edge open hardware and software.

The funding will enable the successful projects to develop and demonstrate a range of innovative technological solutions to improve connectivity in places with some of the biggest demand on mobile services. This includes busy locations like cities, airports, stadiums, or large venues where many people use their devices simultaneously, posing a challenge for mobile networks to handle high levels of traffic.

The ONE competition was designed to demonstrate how this new way of building mobile networks can deliver fast, dependable connectivity in busy places where many people need wireless connections. Instead of using only one company’s equipment, Open RAN enables different companies’ technology to work together, which can make the network better and more flexible. 

The projects will initiate trials of open 5G networks across the country, in: 

  • Major urban centres in Glasgow, Cambridge, Liverpool, Bath, and the City of London 
  • Iconic sports and entertainment venues including Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, the National eSport Arena, Cambridge Corn Exchange, and Shelsley Walsh motorsport venue 
  • The historic seaside resorts of Blackpool and Worthing 

Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure Sir John Whittingdale said: 

“Whether you’re in a busy city centre or a rural village, a fast and reliable mobile connection is vital to staying in touch, accessing services and doing business.

“In order to secure that, we need to embrace a diverse and secure range of technology that will underpin the network.

“The projects we’re backing today with £88 million in Government research and development investment will use innovative Open RAN solutions to make our mobile networks more adaptable and resilient, with future-proofed technology to support bringing lightning-fast connections across the country for many years to come.”

Running until March 2025, the projects are part of the government’s Open Networks Research and Development Fund, dedicated to building secure and resilient communications infrastructure and enhancing competition and innovation within the 5G telecoms supply chain. The full list of successful projects can be found here.

In a further boost to telecoms supply chain resilience and diversification, major mobile network operators BT/EE, Three UK, Virgin Media O2, and Vodafone to endorse the UK’s Open RAN Principles

The Memorandum of Understanding reaffirms the ambition for 35% of the UK’s network traffic to pass through open and interoperable Radio Access Network (RAN) technologies by 2030. 

Hamish MacLeod, Chief Executive of Mobile UK: 

“The development of open and interoperable RAN solutions is important to the UK’s mobile industry. This announcement highlights Mobile UK’s member operator’s ongoing R&D trial and deployment programmes, helping progress solutions to realise ambitions to grow traffic over open RAN architecture.”

Nick Johnson, Head of UKTIN said: 

“The Government’s funding to tackle adoption barriers of open mobile networks is another significant contribution to the telecoms industry, and once again highlights the important role the sector plays in driving connectivity and economic growth in the UK.

“Building a diversified telecoms infrastructure in the UK is crucial to unlocking opportunities for growth and creating a prosperous future. The projects announced today, in support of that mission, will both deliver exciting innovations and consider how to overcome some of the tricky but important challenges to wide-scale deployments.”

This announcement coincides with Vodafone’s recent start of Open RAN equipment installation at 2,500 sites in Wales and the South-West of England.

  • The Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) competition is part of the government’s £250 million 5G Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, fostering telecoms R&D projects including Future RAN Competition (FRANC), Future Open Networks Research Challenge, and entities like SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre (SONIC Labs), UK Telecoms Innovation Network, and UK Telecoms Lab. 
  • ONE launched on 14 March 2023, offering organisations funding to develop software and hardware products for enhanced open and interoperable technology, including funding for demonstrations of Open RAN technologies in high-demand density environments.
  • The UK government’s Open RAN Principles set out the characteristics that open-interface solutions, such as Open RAN, should possess in order to deliver on the UK’s 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy’s goals for resilient and secure networks with competitive and innovative supply chains.

The UK Government and UK mobile network operators have a joint ambition to carry 35% of the UK’s mobile network traffic over open and interoperable RAN architectures by 2030. Read the agreement here.

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