The UK government announced initiatives driven by operators Virgin Media O2 (VMO2), BT Group Vodafone UK and 3 UK are among the winners of an open RAN competition, with 19 projects in total set to receive a share of £88 million in funding for trials of the technology.

In a statement, the government explained the sum will be used to finance the testing of 5G networks using open RAN equipment in places where demand for mobile services is high.

The investment is part of the UK’s £250 million 5G supply chain diversification strategy announced in 2020, while the open RAN competition was announced earlier this year.

Breaking out some of the projects, VMO2 will be working with Mavenir, Intel and Qualcomm to develop a portable open RAN cell on wheels offering to provide coverage for high traffic events.

Meanwhile, Vodafone has teamed with Arm and Dorset council, among other partners for rural mobile network development and BT is involved in a number of entries, including ARIANE which is designed to push RAN intelligence across network ecosystems.

In Glasgow, 3 UK is part of the Small Cells O-RAN in Dense Areas (SCONDA) project, seekng to address unique and commercial challenges of high demand areas.

Other industry industry players including Telecom Infra Project, vendor Cisco and IT company Accenture are also among the winners.

Trials will commence in city centres, entertainment and tourism hotspots in London, Glasgow, Cambridge, Liverpool, Bath, Cardiff and Sunderland and run until March 2025.

Vodafone UK recently commenced installing open RAN equipment in 2,500 of its sites, replacing Huawei kit in line with government guidelines.