£2.4m awarded to 5G research and development

West Midlands 5G (WM5G) has been awarded £2.4m in funding through the DCMS Future RAN (FRANC) competition.

Future RAN has funded a competition where £30m is allocated towards the research and development of 5G. The money is also to support the Government’s 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, a plan to support the telecom industry whilst ensuring it is resilient to future trends and threats.

WM5G will provide the urban testbed for the testing and development of Open RAN solutions in the Birmingham Knowledge Quarter (BKQ). The high-tech campus is located next to Aston and Birmingham City University.

Robert Franks, managing director at WM5G said: “This strategic move will enable new technologies to be utilised by some of the most progressive companies and vendors in the region, cementing WM5G as a leading player and forward-thinker in the move towards Open RAN solutions.”

Rhys Enfield, director of infrastructure acceleration at WM5G said: “The Birmingham Knowledge Quarter, with its concentration of high-tech organisations and companies, will make a fantastic urban testbed for the development of vendor-neutral Open RAN technologies in the UK.”

WM5G is part of the Accelerating Intelligence RAN (Radio Access Network) in 5G (ARI-5G) consortium. The funding will be used to accelerate RAN deployment in the region enabling further commercial opportunities and supporting new suppliers.

The current RAN market is dominated by a handful of organisations that work to 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) standards. ARI-5G wants to develop open standards so that there will be space for new companies at any level of the RAN market to get started.

The ARI-5G consortium, supported by DCMS, will be led by Telecom Infra Project (TIP) – an alliance of over 400 major telco players – along with partners WM5G, BT, Accelerant, Viavi, Amdocs and Attocore. Andy Welch, technical lead at WM5G led the bid.