But will projects see the green light or choke on red tape?
The UK government is creating a new publicly funded body, the UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN), which it claims will make the UK “a world-leading centre for telecoms innovation”. UKTIN is intended as an information point for telecoms industry players needing funding or test facilities for research and development. This, the government hopes, will foster collaboration between technology companies and catalyse new technological developments for UK mobile and broadband networks.
Boot up the UKTIN
There is also a competition in which organisations can apply to get the UKTIN centre up and running, for which up to £10m funding is available. The idea is to help inventors develop their products, gain better access to telecoms markets and drive exports abroad.
“The primary aim of the funding for the UKTIN will be to set up and deliver a body which will support innovative new companies and the wider telecoms ecosystem to access and navigate R&D funding and facilities, as well as to provide them with the requisite technical support to grow their businesses and to develop their products and solutions,” said the governmental release.
There’s a prize if your luck’s in
This competition fulfils ambitions set out in the 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy and recommendations made by the Telecoms Diversification Taskforce. According to new independent figures from ThinkBroadband two-thirds of UK homes and businesses can now access lightning-fast gigabit broadband – although that is a contentious claim among many UK consumers that Mobile Europe has contacted. The UKTIN will be run by a consortium of organisations with telecoms expertise and will support knowledge sharing and collaboration on open systems, namely Open RAN, which is in need of new vendors to support the desired ‘supply chain of diversification’.
With Open RAN you’re quids-in?
According to City AM, which informs investors in London’s financial centre, OpenRan “will increase competition, drive up the quality of products and services and reduce the UK’s current reliance on a small number of international suppliers.” However, telecoms industry insiders have decried these over simplifications. “It is not Open RAN that saves money, it is what you do with Open RAN that [saves cash],” said Geoff Hollingworth chief marketing officer for Open RAN specialist Rakuten Symphony, in a recent LinkedIn blog post.
Listen to Rakuten
“You cannot get to industrialised automation at software component level without it. You cannot diversify supply chain with monolithic single source delivery,” said Hollingworth, “But if you truly want that end to end zero touch provisioning and operation, you have to be able to manage it and operate it with software and data not people and paper.” Open RAN saves money and it doesn’t doesn’t save money, both claims are true, said Hollingworth. “Let’s stop and instead ask How do I start running a better business?“
Time for consort in
“This is about making the UK the best place in the world to develop rapid and seamless new technology for the digital networks that will power our economy well into the 21st century,” said the government’s Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez.
The UKTIN is expected to be up and running by the end of the year. The winning consortium will be announced in summer.