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Ofcom and the UK government announce new 'SONIC' initiative for Open RAN

Digital Catapult IoT.
(Image credit: Digital Catapult.)

A new venture, the SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre (SONIC), has been announced by Digital Catapult and Ofcom, with the aim of creating a platform to test interoperability and integration of open standards and technology, starting with Open RAN for 5G networking .

Digital Catapult is part of The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)  Catapult network, tasked with supporting the Government's aim of achieving 2.4 percent of GDP on research and development by 2027. And this partnership with Ofcom has been launched with eight signed-up solutions providers,  including Accelleran NV, Phluido Inc, Effnet AB, Benetel Ltd, Mavenir, Foxconn, NEC and Radisys. However, SONIC is currently looking for more participants before it goes live in May.

"Digital Catapult and Ofcom are seeking to understand the readiness of Open RAN for real world applications."

SONIC launch announcement.

“These vendors and system integrators, with products of varying maturity and with diverse solution models are working together to combine and deploy Open RAN solutions,” the SONIC launch announcement explained. “Digital Catapult and Ofcom are seeking to understand the readiness of Open RAN for real world applications, and the vendors and integrators are seeking to build new products and solutions, learning and sharing best practice.”

Fostering a new ecosystem

SONIC will provide its members with the opportunity to experiment with multiple 5G Open RAN deployments, with SONIC providing the resource and technology to investigate product deployment across multiple architectures and integration models.

"We encourage companies across the telecoms industry to express their interest in participating, as we get set for the project to go live in May.”

Simon Saunders, Ofcom.

“With the first vendors on board and more expected to follow, this is an exciting step in the journey of the SONIC project,” said Simon Saunders, director of emerging and online technology at Ofcom.” SONIC offers a unique opportunity to shape what the UK’s supply chains of the future could look like and support innovation. So we encourage companies across the telecoms industry to express their interest in participating, as we get set for the project to go live in May.”

In addition to telecoms companies, SONIC will also supply insights to network providers  – including national operators and smaller private and neutral networks.  With businesses given the opportunity to explore technology such as private and virtual networks.

“SONIC will foster an ecosystem in the UK of large and small telecoms suppliers, with multiple providers for each element in the technology stack,” said Digital Catapult CTO Joe Butler. “Providing a neutral environment for testing and demonstration with eight solution providers will surface the opportunities and challenges of interoperability.  We will collectively learn what works and what does not in terms of integration, technology and processes.”

If you are interested in learning more about SONIC, you can register at www.digicatapult.org.uk/for-startups/other-programmes/sonic

Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.