The UK government furthered efforts to diversify network equipment options after banning the use of Huawei 5G kit, launching a £30 million competition to fund R&D projects which accelerate open RAN adoption and position the country as a leading player in the next-generation era.

Funded by the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Future RAN Competition (FRANC) scheme is expected to boost the security and resilience credentials of new 5G technology while bringing societal and economic benefits.

To do so, proposals are advised to focus on finding ways to increase power efficiency and tackle issues related to the management of spectrum resources, advanced software platforms and systems integration.

Proposals will be accepted until 27 August and winners unveiled in the following months.

The DCMS explained the move aims to tackle “the world’s over-reliance on a small number of telecoms vendors”.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman described the competition as a way to “get some of our most creative minds” helping the nation deliver the benefits of 5G “safely and securely”.

The scheme is part of a strategy the UK unveiled at end-2020 targeting 5G supply chain diversification, which was later slammed by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee for doing little to ease reliance on Nokia and Ericsson.

It called for exploration of more options for market diversification including open RAN and pther technologies.

Last week, the UK poured £1 million into an open RAN test facility.