The UK’s digital authority cited an ambition to fire up innovation in 5G and 6G with moves designed to spur open RAN R&D, including the launch of a joint project with South Korea centred around network power efficiency.

Reiterating a regularly-cited ambition to push supply chain diversification, the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) opened applications for £25 million of funding and detailed what it claimed as a milestone partnership with Korea.

The Future Open Networks Research Challenge is open to universities and industry, designed to fund early-stage research into “open and interoperable telecoms” systems for use in 5G and 6G.

Cash will come from the UK government’s previously-announced £250 million open networks R&D fund.

The UK’s tie-up with Korea will see both nations contributing to a £3.6 million purse earmarked for development of technical solutions for improved power efficiency in open RAN networks.

“Power consumption is a major operating cost, so the work will support wider adoption of open RAN technologies, reduce operating costs and support net zero ambitions,” the UK authority added.

The DCMS also announced the allocation of £10 million to the UK Telecoms Innovation Network, a body founded earlier this year with the remit of “boosting creativity in the country’s telecom supply chain”. It is set to begin operation in September.

UK authorities have been keen on operators adding a greater number of vendors into their supply chain since slapping a ban on Huawei in 2020.

Part of this has been a push to promote open RAN and setting a target of 35 per cent of mobile traffic in the country going over networks sporting the new network architecture by 2030.