Connecting Cambridgeshire, on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council, is leading a consortium of next-generation infrastructure service providers, technology developers, mobile network operators, universities, and market-leading mobile equipment manufacturers to deliver a cutting-edge, multi-vendor 5G Open Radio Access Network (RAN) platform in Cambridge. 

Our consortium is one of 19 successful projects awarded funding by the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) Competition, to demonstrate the reliability and feasibility of Open RAN technologies and showcase their role in delivering resilient and future-proofed connectivity to UK citizens and businesses.

What is an Open Radio Access Network?

An Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) is a type of wireless network architecture used in telecommunications, particularly in mobile networks like 4G and 5G.

A traditional Radio Access Network (RAN) consists of tightly integrated hardware and software components provided by a single vendor. In contrast, Open RAN promotes a more modular and open approach.

In simple terms:

  • Traditional RAN – In the past, mobile networks were built using equipment from a single supplier. This made it challenging for operators to mix and match components or switch vendors easily.
  • Open RAN – With Open RAN, the network is built using standardised equipment, including interfaces and protocols. This allows operators to use hardware and software from different vendors that meet these standards. This makes it easier for multiple operators to use the same network.

Project description

Running until March 2025, the project will deliver a cutting-edge, multi-vendor 5G Open RAN neutral host platform catering for High Demand Density (HDD) locations. The primary objective of this project is to cultivate technical expertise and insights to accelerate the deployment of 5G in similar regions across the UK.  

This network will serve as a dynamic testing ground to develop and trial enhanced interoperability of hardware and software in HDD environments with the ambition of demonstrating how the costs of implementation can be reduced and simplified. The project seeks to stimulate innovation and encourage new players to enter the UK market by proving Open RAN in a real-world HDD test environment. The project team will work in partnership with mobile network operators to deliver these mutual ambitions. 

By supporting the development of novel software including xApps, rApps & RIS to test the optimisation capabilities of Open RAN, integrating devices including radio units into an Open RAN environment, and delivering community-oriented products such as an Augmented Reality experience that will both test the data handling capabilities of Open RAN and support the local tourism industry, the project will support the drive to diversify the 5G Open RAN Hardware & Software supply chain in the UK. 

The Connecting Cambridgeshire team is excited to lead this transformative project that will unlock new opportunities, propel innovation, and reinforce the UK’s position at the forefront of Open RAN technology exploration.

Project milestones and updates

Following the official announcement from DSIT about the £88 million research and development boost for innovative connectivity to future proof UK mobile network, the exciting news about our success was also shared on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website.

The full list of successful projects can be found here.

We also appear on the UKTIN website as a project page.

Check back for more updates as the project progresses.