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Introducing our new SONIC Labs Strategic Advisory Board and Industry Groups

Posted 13 Oct 2022

Introducing our new SONIC Labs Strategic Advisory Board and Industry Groups

By Paul Ceely, Director of Technology Strategy and Programme Lead at Digital Catapult

In order to drive forward a more diverse, secure and resilient 5G supply chain and to realise the potential of Open RAN technology, it is clear close collaboration is required across the telecoms industry and government. As a co-director on the SONIC Labs programme, I’m excited to announce we’re bringing different stakeholders together from across the telecoms ecosystem to share insights on Open RAN technology and support the delivery of our programme. 

Our newly created Strategic Advisory Board will provide insight and advice to help develop a model for delivering the technical and innovation capabilities for open networks to diversify UK 5G supply chains. The board represents public and private stakeholders from across the telecoms ecosystem – including techUK, DCMS, Ofcom, representatives of Open RAN Vendors (such as Mavenir), System Integrators (such as NEC), as well as potential adopters of Open RAN – operators and neutral hosts such as as and Freshwave, view the full list of board members in our recent press release. 

We’re also creating industry groups to draw on expertise from across the ecosystem. For example, as key adopters of Open RAN technology and products, mobile operators will provide invaluable insight on new product requirements to SONIC Labs and participating vendors of what is needed for new products, as well gain exposure to the new innovators participating in SONIC Labs. This group will include representatives from the four leading UK MNOs, including EE/BT, Three, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone UK. We will gain their input on topics such as areas of focus for testing activities, future cohorts of vendors and field trial definition to try and make them as useful as possible to vendors and potential users of Open RAN products in the UK. 

In addition, we see Wireless Infrastructure, Neutral Host and Telecoms Services Providers playing a key role in the deployment ecosystem in the UK. We’ll look to draw on their expertise as potential adopters of Open RAN technologies for neutral host in building and private network deployments, to explore and understand the practical deployment challenges for the UK that would need to be reflected in product capabilities. The group will also help to provide exposure to the new innovators participating in SONIC Labs.

Finally, a Testbed Industry Group will be created, including commercial, public sector and academic representatives with a focus on Open RAN and 5G diversification from across the UK and internationally. The group will include global testbeds, for example from the USA and Australia.  The aim is to align and support other Open RAN testbed initiatives with the aim to make it as easy as possible for vendors to progress their products to market.  For example, we will explore how to manage the innovation and testing journey between labs focusing on different types of testing or maturity, or how to minimise the duplication of testing in different labs aligning on methodologies and information capture.

I believe the creation of this cross-industry collaboration will be essential to realising the full potential of Open RAN technology and I’m looking forward to our first meetings as they kick off over the coming weeks to help foster vital collaboration in this space. I look forward to sharing some of our learnings and insights in future blogs.

About SONIC Labs
Funded by DCMS, SONIC Labs is a programme from Digital Catapult and Ofcom to allow new solution providers to enter the telecoms supply chain in the UK. It will drive forward the rollout of Open RAN, which enables mobile networks to be built using a variety of different equipment suppliers.  Register your interest in SONIC Labs or find out more about our latest open call here