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Diversification R&D Programme Consultation

Brought to you by CW (Cambridge Wireless)

This event, hosted by UK5G, will provide delegates with an opportunity to help shape DCMS thinking on the scope and structure of a long-term programme of R&D for 5G supply chain diversification, through a series of presentations and interactive workshops.

Registration for this event is now closed.

About the event

This event is jointly delivered by UK5G and DCMS


The 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy (2020) set out the Government’s long-term vision for the telecoms access supply market. One where competition and innovation bring forward new deployment models based on open interfaces and interoperable standards, with flexible networks and comprising an array of suppliers. This is because such a market increases competition and choice, and ultimately introduces interchangeability of equipment into the supply chain, boosting resilience.

One of our top priorities for delivering the strategy is investing in a R&D ecosystem that will support industry to accelerate the development of interoperable deployment methods, like Open RAN. In particular, the strategy identifies the high cost of R&D as a key barrier to entry for suppliers of open and interoperable products.

Following on from the Future RAN Competition, we are keen to understand from industry how future government funding can support the R&D that’s needed more long-term, to get interoperable technologies competing with traditional deployment methods in the most demanding, dense environments - both technically and commercially.

We would like to provide an opportunity to explore industry thinking in this area, highlight industry challenges and opportunities, and identify where there are still gaps that Government investment can fill, in delivering our long-term vision for a healthy, interoperable supply market. It is also an opportunity for DCMS to discuss our latest thinking while also signalling that the UK government is supporting key diversification objectives.

The expert Telecoms Diversification Taskforce identified five areas that still needed to be addressed before Open RAN could be deployed at scale. These are guiding our approach to R&D, and will form the basis of three areas of discussion:

1) Product development and engineering - what technologies still need to be refined and developed before Open RAN is competitive in all geographies? Which of those should the UK Government invest in/and which are being delivered by the market?

2) System Integration - how can we build systems integration capability in the ecosystem, whilst avoiding potential ‘systems integrator lock-in’?

3) Performance demonstration and network integration - how can we start to demonstrate Open RAN performance in the most demanding environments? And how can we demonstrate interoperability and integration in a brownfield deployment environment?

Attendees will be provided with a full agenda closer to the event. Please register your interest for this event and we will be in touch to confirm your place. 

If you have any questions, please do get in touch via:

You can follow @UK_5G on Twitter.

Jointly organised by UK5G

The national innovation network dedicated to the promotion of research, collaboration and the commercial application of 5G in the UK.

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Jointly organised by Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) helps to drive growth, enrich lives and promote Britain abroad.

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The information supplied below may be subject to change before the event.


Welcome from Robert Driver, Head, UK5G


Interoperability framework: Evie Ioannidi, Senior Interoperability and R&D Lead, DCMS

Run through of the 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, and DCMS’s current thinking on delivering the goal of accelerating the development and deployment of open-interface technologies.


Supplier diversification – an industry viewpoint: Simon Blagden CBE, UK Government Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Advisory Council

The national challenge and the journey from the Task Force to the Advisory Council.


Introductions to breakout sessions: Simon Fletcher, CTO, Real Wireless


Clarifications/Q & A: Simon Fletcher, CTO, Real Wireless


Breakout sessions

1) Product development and engineering:
A supply of enabling technologies is essential for competitive deployments of Open RAN in all environments from remote and rural to dense urban. Are there key enabling technologies that stand out as potentially benefiting from funding? Is the UK already strong in some areas and how can knowledge be shared to facilitate further R&D and build upon the capability whilst respecting IPR? Private networks for a multitude of enterprise needs are forecast to be a significant area of growth in the UK, how could they play a role in stimulating Open RAN and enabling technologies to support macro network deployment. How can R&D funding be used to support Private Network suppliers entering the macro network?

2) System integration:
As we disaggregate the RAN, the challenge of systems integration, and the opportunity for systems integrators, grows; how can the system integrator business model be supported whilst avoiding ‘systems integrator lock-in’? Systems integrators are encouraged to have a diversity of suppliers including smaller suppliers, what can be done to encourage new partnerships and help them to overcome barriers to adoption?

3) Performance demonstration and network integration:
What is the assessment of the readiness of 5G Open RAN for trials in live urban environments, and how could government R&D investment accelerate trials? The ability during perhaps a sustained transition period to deploy traditional solutions alongside Open RAN requires that interoperability is assured, how can government investment support this? Is there a scale of Open RAN trial that could create a tipping point in accelerating MNO adoption of Open RAN?


Feedback & closing remarks


Event close


Simon Blagden CBE

Simon Blagden is Chair of Larkspur International Limited and has 30 years experience in the IT, Telecoms and Digital industry. He was previously non-executive Chairman at Fujitsu UK, a post he held for 14 years. His career began at GEC where he was International Commercial Manager. In 1991, he joined Quante AG as UK Managing Director and then joined the Main Board in 1995 as CEO, managing operations worldwide. In 2000 he joined Spescom in Johannesburg as CEO to head up its international telecoms and IT business.

Simon is also Chair of the UK Government’s Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Advisory Council, Industry Chair of the Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Group (All Party Parliamentary Group), co-Chair of the Research Institute of Social Mobility and Education and a member of the Trade Advisory Group at the Department of International Trade. Simon was appointed MBE in 1997 for services to export and was appointed CBE in 2016 for services to the economy. His previous appointments have been member of the Government's Apprenticeship Delivery Board and member of the expert panel advising Government on Technical and Professional Education.

Robert Driver - Head, UK5G

Bob leads the UK5G programme. CW is the lead partner for a consortium chosen by the Department of Digital, Culture Media and Sport, to create and deliver the national 5G Innovation Network called UK5G. UK5G brings together and markets the UK’s 5G eco-system - including the national Testbed & Trials programme along with other business-led 5G initiatives.

Bob was CEO of CW from May 2015 to November 2018 focussing on leading the development of the organisation, broadening its reach with other sectors and clusters, while retaining the unique culture and dynamism of the CW community. 

Prior to working at CW, Bob was Director for Technology at UK Trade & Investment (now part of the Department for International Trade) where he successfully led national teams helping UK tech companies to access overseas opportunities as well as attracting technology inward investment into the UK. He also coordinated the UKTI science and innovation agenda and was responsible for the delivery of UKTI events from small missions to large trade fairs.

Simon Fletcher - CTO, Real Wireless

Simon joined Real Wireless in January 2016 as Chief Technology Officer, taking overall technical and innovation strategy responsibility across the company. He is a member of the UK5G AB, co-chair of the International WG, and member of the Climate WG. His long-standing association with the UK innovation eco-system through roles such as Director of mVCE and the Innovate-UK ICT-KTN brings a wealth of practical knowledge on open innovation to accelerate product and services delivery. Simon spent his formative years in telecoms infrastructure systems and product development. In NEC Corporation he played a key role in the formation of Joint Ventures for development of 3G and 4G products and established a core team that developed the first-generation of technology for 4G systems culminating in a Steering Board position in the LTE SAE Trials Initiative (LSTI). In recent times he has directed projects on future cities, the application 5G and IoT in industry verticals with an event horizon towards 2030. His long participation in Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) and then directing Real Wireless engagement in H2020 and the 2016 NIC study on Future Comms infrastructure brings great foresight on a range of architectural evolutions underway in 5G architectures, in particular for Open RAN and Diversification. He is a CW Small Cell SIG Champion, and in February 2022 the Small Cell Forum (SCF) appointed Simon as their Chief Strategy Officer, drawing on 25 years direct industry experience and work as an advisor to governments, regulators and big business.

Evie Ioannidi - Senior Interoperability and R&D Lead, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)

Evie has a keen interest - and an academic background - in how telecoms policy and regulation can be designed in a way that supports both industry and consumers. After doing her MSc dissertation on the UK’s 5G Strategy, Evie joined DCMS as a telecoms policy professional. She has had the opportunity to deliver the Shared Rural Network, a joint programme between the Government, Ofcom, and the four mobile operators for extending 4G coverage, and she has done parliamentary handling for the Telecommunications (Security) Bill. Since July 2020, Evie has been leading the Interoperability and R&D team within the Telecoms Diversification Unit - first publishing the 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy (Nov 2020), and then designing a programme of work to accelerate the development and deployment of open-interface technologies, like Open RAN.

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