UK government invests £1m in new lab to develop 5G tech

UK government invests

SONIC Labs will focus on building a more secure supply chain for 5G radio equipment

A new £1m lab to support the development of 5G and diversification of Britain’s supply chain is set to launch today.

Backed by the government, SONIC Labs, will focus on building a more secure supply chain for 5G radio equipment, accelerating the UK’s adoption of Open RAN technology.

Open RAN technology expands the supply chain by allowing components from different telecoms suppliers to be used at masts that have previously kitted out by a single supplier.

Based in London and Brighton, the new lab will allow manufacturers of telecoms equipment to examine how kit behaves in a ‘technology-neutral’ mobile network.

The £1m of funding needed to launch the lab has been invested by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with the lab being run by Ofcom and Digital Catapult.

Matt Warman, digital infrastructure minister, commented: I’m thrilled that SONIC Labs is opening its doors to the wealth of telecoms expertise we have in this country to explore new ways of building 5G networks.

Our investment is a crucial element of our strategy to tackle the world’s over-reliance on a small number of telecoms vendors by growing our own cutting-edge solutions at home, he said. I look forward to seeing how the lab will help deliver the incredible social and economic benefits of new technology for people around the UK.

Joe Butler, chief technology officer at Digital Catapult, said: In SONIC Labs we are experimenting to make interoperability a reality. This effort supports our mission to drive UK capability in advanced digital technology and we are grateful to Ofcom for working with us in this partnership and to DCMS for the opportunity to leverage the 5G testbeds we have developed in this effort.

Melanie Dawes, chief executive of Ofcom, added: SONIC Labs is an exciting project that gives us the opportunity to explore how new telecoms technology could operate in the UK market.

She said it’s all about bringing innovation to our communications networks – helping to support fast, secure and reliable connections for the future. A number of companies are already getting involved and we look forward to more joining too.

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