UK authorities revealed details of a test facility designed to accelerate the adoption of open RAN in operator 5G networks, as the country continues efforts to accommodate new supply options in the wake of banning Huawei.

The SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre (SONIC Labs) test sites in London and Brighton will offer a simulated environment mimicking real world conditions.

It has come at a cost of £1 million, funded by the government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The aim is to enable testing of RAN systems using equipment from several different providers. Vendors confirmed as involved in the project include Accelleran, Mavenir, Radisys, Benetel, Phluido, Druid and Effnet.

In a statement the DCMS explained the laboratories are part of a strategy to “build a more secure and innovative supply chain which is fit for the future, less reliant on a small number of multinational suppliers and more accessible for new market entrants”.

UK authorities have been keen on increasing operator options for 5G network equipment since banning Huawei on national security grounds.

Creation of the state-backed facility follows announcements from Vodafone UK and Telefonica’s local brand regarding their own trials and intentions around open RAN.