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Digital Catapult unveils five companies to explore the potential of Open RAN technology on its SONIC Labs testbed

Posted 18 Jul 2022
  • Digital Catapult, with support from its partner Ofcom, has onboarded five companies to its SONIC Labs programme to trial the integration of Open RAN (Radio Access Network) products into working end-to-end systems 
  • Participating organisations will work collaboratively with each other, Digital Catapult and Ofcom to integrate and test their products in lab and indoor mobile network settings, accelerating their route to commercialisation 
  • This is part of £15 million government investment in the SONIC Labs programme to diversify the global telecoms supply chain and deliver fast, secure and reliable connectivity 

Digital Catapult, working in partnership with Ofcom, has given five companies the opportunity to accelerate the development of their Open RAN products, through becoming part of the next phase of its SONIC Labs programme.

SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs is a two year programme from Digital Catapult and Ofcom, funded by DCMS, to allow new solution providers to enter the telecoms supply chain in the UK. It will drive forward the rollout of a new wireless communication technology known as Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN), which enables mobile networks to be built using a variety of different equipment suppliers.

Digital Catapult will help the five organisations to integrate their Open RAN products into working end to end systems, by enabling testing in indoor mobile network settings. The programme is creating a collaborative environment for testing how easily different Open RAN products, solutions and services from multiple vendors can integrate and exchange information. 

The organisations – all Open RAN vendors – will share best practices around the implementation of Open RAN standards, solve specific Open RAN integration problems, collaborate with new partners to create knowledge, and even have the chance to showcase their products to potential customers and end-users. 

Accelerating the adoption of Open RAN technology has the potential to diversify the UK 5G supply chain so it is fit for the future – making it more secure and accessible for new market entrants.

Alongside access to Digital Catapult’s advanced facilities and technical support, participants will also have the opportunity to take part in thought-leadership events throughout and beyond the six month technical programme, and will benefit from networking opportunities and targeted innovation activities to accelerate their route to commercialisation. 


Participating companies include:



Benetel is based in Dublin, Ireland, and is a company dedicated to delivering 5G ORAN Radio Units (O-RUs) to Communication Service Providers and Private Networks. They will participate by providing a Radio Unit (RU) in this cohort. 


The other Radio Unit in the SONIC Labs will be provided by CableFree: Wireless Excellence, a UK-based equipment vendor with a deployed base of customers in more than 80 countries. The company designs and manufactures high-performance wireless connectivity products including 5G Macro and Small Cell Radios.


Effnet is a company based in Sweden and is dedicated to delivering 5G RAN software components to Communications Service Providers as well as for a wide variety of applications including private networks and non-terrestrial networks. They will be providing a Distributed Unit (DU) and a Centralised Unit (CU) to the programme and bring more than 20 years of experience in the area of research and development of efficient networking.


IS-Wireless is a company based in Poland, specialising in the development of software-defined 4G and 5G mobile networks. The company has been recognized as one of a few European RAN vendors by leading telco operators in their November 2021 report “Building an Open RAN Ecosystem for Europe.” IS-Wireless is contributing to the programme by bringing a Centralised Unit (CU) and will bring the L2 stack, part of the Distributed Unit (DU). 


Phluido is a pioneer company in the fields of fronthaul technology and cellular network virtualisation from San Diego, California. The company will be in charge of providing the physical layer for a Distributed Unit (DU) to the SONIC Labs programme.

In November 2022, it was announced that Capgemini joined this phase of the SONIC Labs programme.