The UK government announced a major push around accelerating the deployment of open RAN in the country, upping its funding for related projects and securing operator commitments regarding the approach.

In a statement, the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) explained it agreed with the four domestic operators to fulfill a goal to boost deployments so 35 per cent of the nation’s mobile network traffic is carried over open RAN by 2030.

It increased previous funding of £30 million to a total of up to £51 million to back projects for trials of open RAN and next-generation technology.

Of the overall funding, £36 million will go to the 15 winners of Future RAN Competition (FRANC), a government scheme focused on developing elements including radio transmitters and signal processing equipment needed for open RAN rollouts.

Up to £15 million will be poured into SONIC Labs, a facility allowing suppliers to test early-stage products in real-world mobile network environments.

The moves are part of the government’s broader strategy to diversify the 5G supply chain which it unveiled in November 2020, months after banning the use of Huawei equipment from the next-generation networks.

Alongside the announcement, the UK government explained it has agreed with Vodafone, EE, Virgin Media O2 and 3 UK to switch off all public 2G and 3G networks by 2033.

The aim is to free up spectrum for the mass deployment of 5G and other future networks which the government said can be used for driverless vehicles and drones, immersive VR and AR experiences, and innovations around sustainability and healthcare.

New suppliers entering the telecoms market and deploying next-generation networks is also an expected result from the shutdown, alongside benefits from reduced power use and simplification in management of the networks.