London, 8 December 2021 – Cellnex UK today announced that it had been selected for grant funding as part of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Future Radio Access Network Competition (FRANC). The grant will go towards funding a Cellnex UK-led consortium of industry partners that is developing a new software-based platform to create a testbed for both public and private 5G cellular networks deployed in the centre of Bristol as well as providing backhaul over the LEO-Satellite Constellation. The £35 million competition is designed to fund innovative R&D projects to develop Open RAN technology across the UK.
The project, which will unlock the full potential of Open RAN in the UK, is worth £1.9m and will be part-funded as part of FRANC. The consortium brings together Cellnex UK and industry-leading academics at the University of Bristol and industry partners AttoCore, Parallel Wireless, the Satellite Applications Catapult and Weaver Labs.
David Crawford, Managing Director of Cellnex UK, said: “The award as part of DCMS’s FRANC competition is a hugely satisfying endorsement of the innovation-led work we’ve been doing alongside our industry partners. This project will deliver an IT solution for the telecoms industry that would create a single pool of resources, allowing mobile network operators to adopt innovation at speed and scale. With this funding, we have the chance to make an impactful contribution to the UK’s digital divide and to the levelling up of the whole country.”
Julia Lopez, Digital Infrastructure Minister, said: “Our mobile networks play an increasingly crucial part in our lives and businesses, which is why we’re investing £36 million in cutting-edge projects to ensure our networks are safe and secure for decades to come. I’m pleased to see such an outstanding range of innovators are now on board with FRANC as we push ahead to build a more competitive and resilient telecoms supply chain.”
DCMS launched FRANC as part of the government’s aims to support diversity in the UK’s supply market for radio equipment. Funding is intended to address a number of challenges outlined in the 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, including barriers to research and development in organisations.
The O-RANOS project will create an architectural blueprint to accelerate development and reduce costs of new product offerings and create new business models for both private and public 5G networks. It plans to demonstrate Open RAN backhaul over a number of transmission methods, including the world’s first demonstration over OneWeb’s LEO-Satellite Constellation, which will extend Open RAN intelligence to the transport network and pave the way for backhaul convergence. This project has the potential to vastly accelerate rural 5G deployments by offering a wide range of additional use cases, including smart agriculture, maritime applications and enhanced connectivity at sea. It will also provide an extra layer of reliable emergency communications by diverting traffic from satellite to terrestrial links. Additionally, the grant will allow the consortium to increase the UK’s 5G and Open RAN skills by creating new specialist jobs, improve network coverage and resiliency, and bolster the UK’s market readiness by delivering new software solutions that can be exported.
The software-led innovation has the potential to bridge the digital inequality gap by offering reliable connectivity everywhere in a quicker time by accelerating the development and adoption of Open RAN private networks in the UK. O-RANOS will introduce security by design into the complex supply chain through contribution to open interfaces. With a focus on multi-domain integration, costly network deployments in both urban and suburban areas and difficult to secure backhaul will be combatted with the development of a Zero Trust AppStore architecture. This development can accelerate the deployment of apps and allow for the speedier adoption of innovative new developments in the industry.
Cellnex is Europe and the UK’s largest and fastest-growing independent owner and operator of wireless telecoms infrastructure and is integral to the successful roll-out of 5G. With the wireless infrastructure foundation that we deliver across rural and urban areas, Cellnex UK connects everyone, everywhere. Our networks and solutions are built to be fit for now and the future so that the UK can prosper. We are a business built on commercial and technical innovation, ambition and sustainable growth. We offer customers the commitment to neutrality and the economic benefits of shared infrastructure.
For more information: www.cellnextelecom.co.uk
About Cellnex Telecom
The efficient deployment of next-generation connectivity is essential to drive technological innovation and accelerate inclusive economic growth. Cellnex Telecom is an independent provider of neutral wireless telecommunications and broadcasting infrastructures, allowing operators to access Europe’s most extensive network of advanced telecommunications infrastructure on a shared-use basis, helping to reduce access barriers for new operators and improve services in the most remote areas.
Cellnex manages a portfolio of more than 130,000 sites – including deployments planned until 2030 – in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Poland. Cellnex’s business is structured in four main areas: services for telecommunications infrastructures, audiovisual broadcasting networks, security and emergency network services, and solutions for the intelligent management of urban infrastructures and services (Smart cities and “Internet of Things” (IoT)).
The company is listed on the continuous market of the Spanish Stock Exchange and is part of the selective IBEX35 and EuroStoxx 100. It is also present in the main sustainability indices, such as CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), Sustainalytics, FTSE4Good, MSCI and Standard Ethics. Cellnex’s reference shareholders include Edizione, GIC, BlackRock, Canada Pension Plan, TCI, CriteriaCaixa, Wellington Management Group, Capital Group, Fidelity and Norges Bank.
For more information: www.cellnextelecom.com