The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced £1 million of funding for a government-backed lab to help UK telecoms manufacturers develop 5G equipment.
SONIC Labs, based in London and Brighton, will be run by Ofcom and Digital Catapult to help UK firms diversify 5G supply chains and invest in new technologies.
The move will also help the UK to accelerate its adoption of Open RAN technology, which allows components from different telecoms suppliers to be used in the same mast.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman launched the centre at a virtual event on 24th June. He said:
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.
“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.”
Digital Catapult Chief Technology Officer Joe Butler 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.”
Ofcom Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes said:
SONIC Labs is an exciting project that gives us the opportunity to explore how new telecoms technology could operate in the UK market. 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.”
Also announced at the launch were plans for the DCMS to develop a long-term strategy for 5G and future wireless networks.