A UK government-backed open RAN testing facility under the Sonic Labs project opened for equipment vendors to test the interoperability of products, as the country pushes on with attempts to widen operator infrastructure options.

The latest part of Sonic Labs, which is run by government-backed non-profit Digital Catapult, is in partnership with UK regulator Ofcom and carries funding from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Opening the testing facility, Digital Catapult noted the next technical activity Sonic Labs will focus on involves testing and integration around the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC).

“The programme continues to evolve and extend its activities to push the capabilities of the open RAN products,” the organisation noted, adding upcoming priorities include “exploring outdoor-focused products, as well as continuing maturity of indoor products such as testing and optimising the performance of the indoor multi-vendor systems”.

Vendors involved in the current phase of the Sonic Labs programme include Accelleran, Airspan Networks, Benetel, IS Wireless, Phluido, Radisys and Wistron NeWeb.

In a statement UK digital infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez claimed its measures and investments in this architecture are “boosting competition in the telecoms market and driving the development of new mobile technology”.

Ofcom group director for network and communications added open RAN is a “vital piece in the puzzle towards creating more diverse supply chains in the telecoms market”.

The drive towards open RAN architecture in the UK is partly being pushed by authorities and follows a decision to ban Huawei 5G infrastructure, which operators are in the process of removing from their networks.