New facility will also provide database of funding and R&D opportunities
The government is offering organisations a grant of up to £10m to establish and run a telecoms innovation centre on its behalf.
The UK Telecoms Innovation Network will act as an information point for telecoms companies looking to access funding or testing facilities for research and development, and will also provide opportunities for businesses to collaborate on new mobile and broadband technologies.
Digital infrastructure minister Julia Lopez said the network would serve as the “first port of call” for businesses looking to access funding and would also act as a “matchmaker” for companies looking to “join forces on cutting-edge projects”.
“Ultimately 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,” she said. “The UKTIN will be tasked with creating an up-to-date database of information on R&D funding in the public and private sector. It will also create an annual report which maps out the latest developments and opportunities in disruptive and innovative telecoms technology in the UK, including Open RAN.”
Open RAN allows telecoms companies to mix and match equipment rather than having to rely on a single supplier when building or maintaining networks.
The government said it is seen as crucial in terms of lowering barriers for firms that want to enter the UK telecoms supply chain, which in turn is expected to “increase competition, drive up the quality of products and services and reduce the UK’s current reliance on a small number of international suppliers”.
Organisations are expected to bid as part of a consortium, with the government planning to announce the winning bid in the summer. The network should be up and running by the end of the year.