Open RAN maturity and interoperability: the emerging story from the labs

Brought to you by The Small Cell Group

This event will examine the issues facing Open RAN deployment and establish what is being learned from the labs created to explore this area.

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Open RAN is a hot topic for driving innovation and diversification in mobile networks, and most Open RAN deployments to date are based on small cells. But there are many questions about the rate of progress for Open RAN before it can provide a widespread deployment option in UK networks, both public and private. Labs around the world are being created to explore these issues with funding from government, regulators and industry, including several in the UK. This event will establish what is being learned from these labs and the remaining barriers for Open RAN to have its vaunted impact.

Questions we will examine include:

  • Are the various Open RAN labs overlapping or complementary?
  • What has been learned so far about the status of Open RAN standards and product interoperability?
  • What is the timeline for Open RAN products to go beyond basic interoperability to delivering on performance and cost expectations of operators, neutral hosts and private deployments?
  • Do small cells provide a launchpad and proving ground for Open RAN in rural and urban macrocells, or is the performance and feature gap too large?

We are delighted to welcome to this event speakers and panellists from Vodafone, Ofcom, DCMS, TIP, Digital Catapult and NTIA.

You can follow @CambWireless on Twitter and tweet about this event using #CWSmallCell.

Sponsored 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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CW & UK5G welcome. Introduction to Small Cell SIG by Simon Saunders, Small Cell SIG Champion


‘Open RAN for Diversification’: Evie Ioannidi, Senior Policy Advisor, RAN Interoperability and R & D, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)


Learnings from the SONIC Labs: Simon Burley, Programme Director, Emerging Technology, Ofcom

Launching in the Summer of 2021, the SONIC Labs (a joint programme of work between Ofcom and Digital Catapult) provides an environment for suppliers to test the interoperability and integration of open- and software-centric networking solutions. This presentation covers the learnings to date from the 5G Open RAN solutions currently deployed in the SONIC Labs.


‘A New Approach to Telecom Network Infrastructure: Focus on TIP Community Labs’: David Hutton, Chief Engineer, Telecom Infra Project (TIP)

TIP operates a global network of Community Labs driving open and disaggregated innovation projects around the world, including in the UK. With examples of TIP’s lab activity and partnerships with public entities in Europe, Indonesia, and Brazil, this session will provide an overview for both industry and policymakers on how to leverage local learnings for the benefit of the global community and accelerate the commercial deployment of Open RAN and other open and disaggregated network solutions.


‘Introduction to NTIA and the US Government’s efforts to promote 5G vendor diversity’: Jaisha Wray, Associate Administrator for International Affairs, and Jaydee Griffith, Electronics Engineer, Office of International Affairs, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

Jaisha Wray and Jaydee Griffith will discuss the U.S. Government’s efforts to promote 5G vendor diversity, including through open radio access networks and research and development.


Panel discussion to be chaired by Simon Saunders, Small Cell SIG Champion

Speakers include:
James Grayling, Head of Business Development & Solution Innovation, Vodafone
Dritan Kaleshi, Director of Technology – 5G, Digital Catapult
Evie Ioannidi, Senior Policy Advisor, RAN Interoperability and R & D, DCMS
Simon Burley, Programme Director, Emerging Technology, Ofcom
David Hutton, Chief Engineer, TIP
Jaisha Wray, Associate Administrator for International Affairs, NTIA
Jaydee Griffith, Electronics Engineer, Office of International Affairs, NTIA


Wrap-up by Simon Saunders, Small Cell SIG Champion


Event close


Simon Burley - Principal, Ofcom

With a career spanning more than 20 years working for telecom infrastructure providers and a mobile operator, Simon’s expertise covers the architectural vision, design, and deployment of all leading radio access technologies. He now leads the Connectivity Programme within Ofcom’s Emerging Technology team which includes the SONIC Labs - a joint programme of work with Digital Catapult.

James Grayling - Head of Business Development and Solution Innovation, Vodafone

James has over 20 years' experience working cross-functionally throughout business. He has extensive experience in the development of new product implementation and product on-boarding. James led on innovative in building solution evolution, 2012 Olympic deployment and 4G launch for VF UK. Now heads up Product integration for ORAN within Vodafone.

Jaydee Griffith - Electronics Engineer, Office of International Affairs, NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration)

Jaydee Griffith is an Electronics Engineer for the NTIA Office of International Affairs, where he focuses on 5G technology and policy issues, especially relating to Open RAN, and international telecom technical standards. Prior to joining OIA, Jaydee was with the NTIA Institute for Telecommunication Sciences where his work focused primarily on 5G system architecture standards and testing, He also co-leads the buildout of the ITS Communications Research and Innovation Network (CRAIN), NTIA’s laboratory for testing communications networks for 5G and beyond. He has worked previously on issues related to the Internet of Things, especially with Smart Rural/Agricultural use cases, and V2X, representing NTIA and USDOT at various international connected vehicle events. Jaydee has received both a DOC Silver Medal (2015) and a Bronze Medal (2020). He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.

David Hutton - Chief Engineer, Telecom Infra Project (TIP)

David is a technology expert with over 25 years of experience in telecommunications with extensive knowledge of existing and future mobile network technologies. Recent technical focus includes topics such as OpenRAN, 5G, Network Function Virtualisation, Operator Cloud and Edge Computing.

As the Chief Engineer at Telecom Infra Project, David is responsible for the Technical Committee and Project Groups as well as providing the technical strategy for the organisation. David also leads the TIP’s engagement on industry relations and partnerships.

Prior to joining TIP, David held senior roles at GSMA, Vodafone, Nortel Networks, and Symbian on areas of technical strategy, product planning and standardisation of mobile technologies related to 2G/3G/4G Network Design, Fixed Mobile Convergence and Next Generation Networks including the industry adoption of VoLTE.

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.

Dritan Kaleshi - Director of Technology - 5G, Digital Catapult, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Bristol (Communication Systems & Networks Research Group)

With 30 years’ experience as a technologist and researcher in communication networks, distributed system design and interoperability, Dritan is Director of 5G Technology at Digital Catapult and Co-Director of SONIC Labs. Dritan has established and leads the Future Networks 5G and Digital Infrastructure programs in Digital Catapult, delivering technology development and innovation in advanced ICT systems and their adoption in enterprise networks in the UK. He was a founder of the SONIC Labs and of UK Telecommunication Network (UKTIN).  An acknowledged thought leader in his field, Dritan has published over 75 papers, holds three patents and has edited two international standards on interoperability, and is often invited to speak on advanced digital infrastructure and communication systems. He has represented the UK in international standardisation bodies and served on/chaired international conferences and technical committees, and provided technical advice to industry and the UK government.  His focus is on national coordination and how to best support advanced digital infrastructure and connectivity technology uptake, growing UK capabilities in telecommunications R&D, as well as developing in Digital Catapult  technical advances on new 5G/6G network architectures, network and service orchestration, edge computing and IoT support.  Prior to Digital Catapult he was at University of Bristol, where he led a 15-strong research team, strategically combining network and distributed systems research with industrial collaboration, making a wide range of contributions and practical implementations in networking, interoperability, smart energy, cities and digital health.

Jaisha Wray - Associate Administrator for International Affairs, NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration)

Jaisha Wray is the Associate Administrator for International Affairs at the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). In this role, she formulates telecommunications and information policies and promotes these policies in international fora. 

Previously, she was the Director for International Cyber Policy in the Cybersecurity Directorate of the National Security Council where she was responsible for drafting and implementing the U.S. strategy on 5G technology as well as enhancing international cybersecurity cooperation with a wide range of partners and allies. She was also the Acting Deputy Director of the State Department's Office of Emerging Security Challenges where she contributed to the formulation of outer space and cyber stability policies and diplomatic strategies. At the State Department, she served as a Political Officer at U.S. Embassy London and as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Office of Missile Defense and Space Policy. She began her government career as a Presidential Management Fellow where she completed rotations in the Space and Cyber Policy Directorate of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in the National Reconnaissance Office.

Ms. Wray holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Los Angeles as well as a M.A. in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She has completed the International Space University Space Studies Program and the Harvard Kennedy School's Executive Education course on cybersecurity.

SIG Champions

Simon Fletcher - CEO, 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.

Caroline Gabriel - Research Director, Analysys Mason, Co-founder and Research Director, Rethink Technology Research

Caroline has been engaged in technology analysis, research and consulting for 30 years and since 2002, has been focused entirely on mobile and wireless. As co-founder and research director of Rethink Technology Research, Caroline has developed a significant research base and forecast methodology, based around deep contacts with mobile and converged operators round the world. This addresses critical issues and trends in mobile and wireless infrastructure, and particularly operator deployment intentions for 4G, 5G, small cells, Cloud-RAN and other technologies. She is also a senior contributor to Analysys Mason’s Next Generation Wireless research programme. She has led research and consulting projects with a wide range of clients, including mobile infrastructure vendors, large and start-up operators, regulators, trade bodies, government agencies and financial institutions. Her advice and forecasts have helped inform strategic decisions at a wide range of vendors, operators, start-ups and finance houses. Prior to setting up Rethink, Caroline held various executive positions at VNU Business Publishing BV, then Europe’s largest producer of technology related B2B reports and publications. She was the European content and research director, and was a member of the leadership team for VNU’s online business. She holds an MA from the University of Oxford.

Vicky Messer - VP Product Management, Picocom

Vicky Messer is VP of Product Management at Picocom with over 25 years of experience in the wireless industry. Vicky joined Picocom over 4 years ago and leads Product Management, Technical Marketing and partnership activities. Vicky also leads the Picocom Small Cell Forum (SCF) activities and joined the board member at Small Cell Forum (SCF). In recognition leading in multiple work items and a published papers, Vicky was awarded the SCF ‘Outstanding Individual Contribution to SCF award’ in 2020.

Vicky is a certified IET registration mentor, and currently mentors a local young female engineer. In May 2023 Vicky joined Industrial Advisory Board Bath University Electronics and Electrical Engineering and also won a SCF Industry Award 2023 for Women in Wireless.

Neil Piercy - Founder, Independent

Neil has been developing base stations for various communications systems for over 30 years, during which time he has performed roles throughout the whole development lifecycle, as well as management roles. Neil joined the small cell specialist company, ip.access, when it was formed as a spin-off from TTP Com back in 2000, and stayed with the company for 23 years, during which time his roles varied from System Architect through to Head of Engineering. As a Systems Engineer covering software, hardware, and RF, he includes specialist areas such as security and networking, as well as a focus on all aspects of protocol design and implementation. He has analysed system performance and performed simulations across GSM, UMTS, LTE and NR small cell RAN equipment and systems. He is now a freelance telecoms Systems Engineering consultant.

Simon Saunders - Visiting Professor, King's College London

Prof. Simon Saunders is an independent advisor and researcher with deep industry and academic background in communication systems technology and a burgeoning interest in the intersection between real and artificial neural systems, communication systems and music. He is a Visiting Professor at King’s College London, telecoms advisor to DCMS and Trustee of the charity Music for All.

Simon is a specialist in the technology of wireless communications, with a technical and commercial background derived from senior appointments in both industry (including Google, Motorola and Philips), academia (University of Surrey, Trinity College Dublin) and regulation (Ofcom).

He founded the Small Cell Forum and chaired this industry association from 2007-12, growing membership to 150 companies and working with 3GPP to create the first standards for small cells. He acted as Director of Emerging & Online Technology for Ofcom, leading Ofcom’s Emerging Technology programme and creating their Online Tech team. At Google (2015-20), he worked with operators globally to enhance wireless connectivity via a range of advanced technology initiatives, combining wireless networks, artificial intelligence and network virtualisation. As co-founder and Director of Technology for independent wireless strategy advisory firm Real Wireless (2006-15), he was responsible for overall technical capability and direction, providing independent wireless expertise and advice to operators, regulators, technology and law firms and wireless users. In 2019 Simon organised the world’s first 5G music lesson on behalf of charity Music for All, led by famous musician Jamie Cullum.

He is an author of over 150 articles, books and book chapters, including a popular textbook on antennas and propagation. He has invented over 15 patented wireless technologies and served on technical advisory boards of several companies and universities.

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