Open RAN – the marmite of mobile telecoms

Brought to you by Cambridge Wireless

Join CW for an afternoon lecture exploring one of the major trends in the mobile industry 'Open RAN', with a talk from Richard Mackenzie, Distinguished Engineer in Wireless Networks at BT’s Applied Research.

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About the event

Join CW for an afternoon lecture from Richard Mackenzie, Distinguished Engineer in Wireless Networks at BT’s Applied Research, followed by a panel session with additional panellists;

  • Ruth Brown, Principal Analyst, Heavy Reading
  • Dean Bubley, Director, Disruptive Analysis Ltd. Network Technology & Futures Analyst / Consultant
  • and Nick Johnson, Head of UKTIN.  

“Open RAN” is one of the major trends in the mobile industry. To some it is the only way for 5G and beyond to achieve the flexibility and performance that we need; to others it is adding unnecessary complication that can lead to inefficiency and sub-optimal performance….. and then there are polarising views on whether it will reduce or increase costs. One of the other aspects of Open RAN is the creation of a more diverse ecosystem, and this has received a lot of encouragement from governments.

While there are might be strategic reasons for such polarised views, a significant part of the problem is simply the ambiguity of the term “Open RAN”. This talk will highlight the key aspects of Open RAN, weighing up the “Good” and the “Bad” sides of Open RAN. As well as clarifying what Open RAN can mean, he will also show the progress made so far, what initiatives are currently driving this forward, and what are the remaining challenges. BT’s Applied Research are involved in a number of Open RAN activities and Richard will provide some first-hand insight from the testbed at BT Labs, where they have numerous Open RAN components from a variety of hardware and software providers, proving the commercial potential of Open RAN solutions.

While some aspects of Open RAN may happen, there are other aspects that are sure to happen. Open RAN is the marmite of mobile telecoms; this session should leave you better informed, so you can decide for yourself what aspects of Open RAN you’d spread on your toast!

This in-person event is taking place at the historical Downing College, Cambridge and will provide delegates with ample opportunities to network with fellow attendees to explore the themes of this event.

Following this event all delegates are invited to join the CW Founders' Dinner drinks reception, which is being held in the same location. The Founders' Dinner is an invitation-only event and offers business networking opportunities for Founder member organisations within the CW network.

Employees of CW member organisations can attend this event for free. You will need to be logged into your CW account to access your free ticket – log in (or reset your password here) 

Tickets for non-members are £30 plus VAT. CW membership may be more cost effective for your organisation – find out more about CW membership benefits.

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


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


Registration and networking with refreshments


Welcome & Introduction from CW


Richard Mackenzie, Distinguished Engineer in Wireless Networks at BT’s Applied Research


Panel Session with additional Panellists

• Ruth Brown, Principal Analyst, Heavy Reading
• Dean Bubley, Director, Mobile Technology & Futurism Analyst / Consultant, Disruptive Analysis
• Nick Johnson, Head of UKTIN


Closing remarks


Delegates are invited to join the CW Founders' Dinner drinks reception, which is being held in the same location


Ruth Brown - Principal Analyst - Mobile Networks, Heavy Reading

Ruth covers mobile network research for Heavy Reading. Key coverage areas include system architecture, core infrastructure and services, and supporting cloud technologies.

Prior to joining Heavy Reading, Ruth worked in mobile and fixed network research and design for BT for over 20 years. Her research interests have included convergence, mobile QoS, network slicing, private networks, cloud native mobile core technology and automation. She has filed more than 40 patents on both real world applications and enhancements to mobile core networks. Ruth is an advocate for women in engineering.

Dean Bubley - Director, Mobile Technology & Futurism Analyst / Consultant, Disruptive Analysis

Dean Bubley (@disruptivedean) is the founder of Disruptive Analysis, an independent technology industry analyst and consulting firm based in London. An outspoken analyst & futurist with over 25 years’ experience, he specialises in wireless / telecoms fields, with an eye on the broader technological, governmental and societal contexts. He is one of the leading market observers and forecasters covering 5G/6G, Wi-Fi, FTTX, edge/cloud compute, enterprise private networks, IoT, and policy issues including spectrum, competition and broadband wholesale. He is known as a contrarian and visionary, often with challenging opinions that go against industry consensus. Speaking at over 30 conferences and other events per year, and quoted by publications such as The Economist, FT & Wall Street Journal, he is an authority and provocateur. He regularly appears in technology industry videos, podcasts and blogs. Mr Bubley was formerly an equity analyst, covering communications stocks, with the UK arm of investment bank Robert W. Baird. Prior to that, he spent eight years at UK research firm Datamonitor, where he co-founded the company's Technology business, managed the Internet & Networking area and custom consulting operations, with roles of Chief Analyst & Director of Consulting. He holds a BA in Physics from Keble College, Oxford University.

Nick Johnson - Head, UKTIN

Nick was founder and CTO of ip.access, the leading small cell infrastructure business based in Cambridge UK from its inception in 2000 to acquisition by Mavenir in 2020. As well as leading the ip.access product line from GSM to 5G, he chaired the Radio and Physical Layer Working Group in the Small Cell Forum and introduced the world to FAPI - the industry standard software/platform interface for small cells.

Nick brings an unequalled commercial experience to the UKTIN and is looking forward to it helping those seeking to exploit and contribute to the unrivalled inventive spirit of the UK, as well as informing the UK Innovation ecosystem into the foreseeable future.

Richard MacKenzie - Distinguished Engineer in Wireless Networks at BT’s Applied Research, BT

Richard Mackenzie is a Distinguished Engineer in Wireless Networks at BT’s Applied Research. Since joining BT in 2009 he has worked on a number of cutting-edge wireless innovations. His current focus is on creating an ecosystem for RAN virtualization, network automation, and the use of small cells. He is co-chair of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) “RAN Intelligence & Automation” OpenRAN sub-project and is also involved in Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN), where he was Chair of the “RAN Functional Split and X-Haul” Group, O-RAN Alliance and Small Cell Forum (SCF). Richard was a Spectrum Manager for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and was part of BT’s bidding team for spectrum auctions, notably the U.K. 4G spectrum auction where BT got back into the mobile game. He has an MEng degree from University of York, and PhD from University of Leeds.

Event Location

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Location info

The Howard Conference Centre, Downing College, Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1DQ

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