The new body, launched today by the UK government, aims to help firms acquire research funding and collaborators for telecoms tech innovation

Today, the UK government has announced the launch of the UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN), an organisation dedicated to expanding innovation in the UK telecoms sector and diversifying the country’s supply chain.

Part of the UKTIN’s role will be to compile a database of both private and public R&D funding, helping to make the UK’s telecoms tech landscape more transparent, as well as releasing an annual report on the latest developments. 

From the government announcement, it seems that the UKTIN will be largely focussed on Open RAN, a technology that has long been proposed by the UK government as a way to boost competition within the sector and reduce reliance on single vendors. This focus should come as no real surprise, since the creation of the UKTIN was first proposed last year by the Telecoms Diversification Taskforce, a government body tasked with expanding the UK telecoms sector’s ecosystem. 

The government’s commitment to Open RAN has been steady for some time now. In December last year, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) announced a ‘joint ambition’ alongside the UK’s mobile operators that 35% of the country’s mobile data traffic would be carried over Open RAN architecture by 2030.

To date, however, only Vodafone has deployed Open RAN technology in a live UK network. 

The UKTIN centre will be run by a ‘consortium of organisations with telecoms expertise’, but exactly who this will be has seemingly yet to be determined. As part of the launch announcement, the government has also launched a competition offering up to £10 million for the establishment and management of the new centre. Applicants will submit two bids, one for £5 million and one for £10 million in funding, with the government proceeding with the bid that they feel represents the best value for money.

“The UK Telecoms Innovation Network will be the first port of call for any telecoms company looking to access R&D funding and a matchmaker for firms looking to join forces on cutting-edge projects,” said Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez. “Ultimately this is about making the UK the best place in the world to develop rapid and seamless new technology for the digital networks that will power our economy well into the 21st century.”

The UKTIN is expected to be in operation by the end of the year. 


How will Open RAN shift the dynamics of the UK telecoms industry? Find out from the experts at this year’s inaugural Connected North event and at Connected Britain, the UK’s largest connectivity conference

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