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West Midlands 5G wins funding for Open RAN development


Mark Say Managing Editor

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West Midlands 5G (WM5G) has been awarded £2.4 million in funding to develop Open RAN (radio access network) solutions its Birmingham Knowledge Quarter testbed.

It has obtained the money through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Future RAN programme, which is contributing to the Government 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy.

WM5G, a not-for-profit owned by the West Midlands Combined Authority and DCMS, is working as part of the Accelerating Intelligence RAN in 5G consortium.

It will provide the urban testbed to explore the opportunities and challenge in scaling up the 5G ecosystem in urban developments.

Robert Franks, WM5G’s managing director, said: “This strategic move will enable new technologies to be utilised by some of the most progressive companies and vendors in the region, cementing WM5G as a leading player and forward thinker in the move towards Open RAN solutions.”

The organisation said the RAN market is currently dominated by a handful of organisations working to Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards. Developing Open RAN is aimed at providing additional space for new vendors.

The announcement comes soon after DCMS expressed an ambition for 35% of mobile traffic to be carried over Open Ran by 2030, with the provision of £36 million to fund projects dealing with the challenges involved.

It also came a day after news that Sunderland City Council will use the technology in its smart city infrastructure.

Image from iStock, Jackie Niam

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