New high-tech 5G lab to boost network security and resilience

  • The lab will allow Britain’s brightest innovators to test the technology in a real ‘simulated’ environment
  • Central pillar of government strategy to build a more secure and innovative 5G supply chain

A new high-tech lab to accelerate the development of 5G communications kit and help Britain diversify its supply chains will be launched today.

The government-backed £1million SONIC Labs will help accelerate the uptake of ‘Open RAN’ technology, which is a major pillar of the government’s 5G diversification strategy.

The strategy aims to build a more secure and innovative supply chain, fit for the future, less dependent on a small number of multinational suppliers and more accessible to new market entrants.

The lab will be a real-world test facility that aims to bring in multiple vendors to supply components for 5G radio gear.

Open RAN technology will end situations where a single vendor’s technology can be used to power a telecommunications network. For example, it will make it possible to exchange or replace components from different telecom suppliers on masts which, until now, were equipped by a single supplier.

Based in London and Brighton, SONIC Labs will allow telecom equipment manufacturers to examine how their kit behaves in a fully interoperable, technology-neutral mobile network. It also aims to encourage innovative suppliers to enter the UK telecoms supply chain and to drive innovation in public networks.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman will launch the center at a virtual event this morning. He said:

I am thrilled that SONIC Labs is opening its doors to the wealth of telecommunications expertise we have in this country to explore new ways to build 5G networks.

Our investment is a crucial part of our strategy to combat the world’s overreliance on a few telecommunications providers by developing our own cutting-edge solutions at home.

I look forward to seeing how the lab will help bring the incredible social and economic benefits of new technologies to people across the UK.

The lab is run by Ofcom and Digital Catapult, who built the facility using existing Digital Catapult infrastructure and capabilities, £1 million seed funding from DCMS and a bespoke SONIC Labs branch in part of Ofcom’s Innovation Lab at Riverside House.

SONIC Labs will work with a wide range of vendors to explore new open approaches to telecommunications networks, including Accelleran, Mavenir, Radisys, Benetel, Phluido, Druid and Effnet.

Digital Catapult Chief Technology Officer Joe Butler said:

At SONIC Labs, we experiment to make interoperability a reality. This effort supports our mission to boost the UK’s capabilities in advanced digital technology and we are grateful to Ofcom for working with us in this partnership and to DCMS for the opportunity to leverage the 5G testbeds we have developed in this effort.

Ofcom Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes said:

SONIC Labs is an exciting project which gives us the opportunity to explore how new telecommunications technologies could work in the UK market. It’s about bringing innovation to our communications networks – helping to support fast, secure and reliable connections for the future. A number of companies are already getting involved and we look forward to more joining as well.

In his speech at the launch of SONIC Labs, Mr Warman also announced that DCMS is developing a long-term strategy for 5G and future wireless networks in the UK.

As part of this, the government will examine the role of spectrum, the finite resource of radio waves at the heart of the development of these technologies, and explain how the government will continue to ensure that wireless infrastructure plays a vital role in improving UK economy and society. to rebuild better.

The government will work closely with industry, Ofcom, academia and others to help shape its thinking and develop the evidence base. More details on how we will develop this work will be announced later this year. Learn more about SONIC Labs


For more information, contact the DCMS press office: 020 7211 2210

Kevin M. Risinger