UK dedicates funds to 5G/6G R&D, industry collaborations

The U.K. government announced this week that it is putting 110 million pounds into support for 5G and 6G-related telecom research and development.

The funding will include 28 million pounds that will be shared among the University of York, University of Bristol and University of Surrey to team up with Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung to work out what it will take to design and build as-yet-unstandardized future networks like 6G, with a focus on support for “a more diverse and innovative telecoms market, and [bringing] an end to current network setups where all equipment within a network must be from a single supplier,” according to a government release.

The U.K. government also will put £80 million into a new telecom lab being build in in Solihull in the West Midlands, which will be a secure research facility and where work on research and testing of 5G and future 6G security mechanisms can be tested. “The facility will also create dozens of specialised jobs in telecoms and cyber security for the region,” the release noted.

Additionally, the U.K. has kicked off an Open RAN R&D partnership with South Korea, a joint project focused on accelerating Open RAN and related technologies, which will receive funding of more than £3 million that includes £1.2 million from the U.K. government. That project will also look at improving the power efficiency of new network equipment types, which the government said is “one of the main obstacles holding back the roll out” of Open RAN.

The funding, according to Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan, will “turbocharge our work to strengthen telecoms supply chains so we are no longer reliant on a handful of companies to develop and maintain our 5G networks.”

The U.K. government developed and published a “5G diversification strategy” late in 2020 that laid out plans for the government to work on lowering barriers for new network vendors, invest in tech like Open RAN and work with other countries on efforts to build “secure and resilient telecoms supply chains.”

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