Technologies3 min read

UK Government Selects Three VMware Projects as Part of Its Open Networks Ecosystem Competition

VMware Staff
A 5G data stream running through a rural area
Huber & Starke / Getty Images

ARIANE, BEACH and 5GMoDe are poised to enhance the UK telecom ecosystem by forging a path for greater diversity in open network communications solutions.

In 2022, the UK Government launched its Open Networks R&D Fund, driven by the opportunity to build a more diversified telecoms infrastructure, strengthening UK networks’ future resilience and security. The fund has three main research and development objectives.

  1. To accelerate the development of open-interface products and solutions, ensuring their true interoperability and sustainability. This aligns with the government’s long-term vision for a more open and innovative telecommunications market.
  2. To incentivise the development of new technologies, specifically Open RAN, and making it easier for commercial network operators.
  3. To develop the UK as an internationally recognised telecoms ecosystem, with leading innovation and research into open network technology.

VMware is announcing that it is participating in three projects selected by UK department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT) as part of its Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) Competition.

The ONE competition is an integral part of the government’s Open Networks R&D Fund. This fund delivers on the £250 million 5G Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Strategy through a range of telecoms R&D projects. The competition has split £80m of funding across 19 projects to support the development of the Open Networks Ecosystem.

The funding will enable the successful projects to develop and demonstrate a range of innovative technological solutions to improve connectivity in places with some of the biggest demand on mobile services. This includes busy locations like cities, airports, stadiums, or large venues where many people use their devices simultaneously, posing a challenge for mobile networks to handle high levels of traffic.

On VMware’s role in the competition, Sanjay Uppal, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Service Provider and Edge, said: "VMware is thrilled to collaborate with its industry consortium partners on three 5G and Open RAN related DSIT projects - ARIANE, BEACH and 5GMoDe - all of which address energy efficiency (high demand density) use cases and support intelligent network programmability using the RIC (RAN Intelligent Controller), along with RAN software automation. These are prototypical use cases for the Software-Defined Edge (SDE) and in the coming years, the projects will lay the foundation for more open and desegregated network communications solutions, enabling the UK telecoms ecosystem to innovate and thrive."

These ONE Competition projects are due to start in October this year and are estimated to run until March 2025.

Further details on the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) projects can be found below:

Project 5GMoDe

5G MoDE is led by VMO2, alongside Mavenir and the University of Surrey. The pioneering project will offer a unique 'Cell on Wheels' solution that can be deployed at special events or high-demand areas, such as sporting events or festivals. This mobile infrastructure provides a robust, high-capacity connectivity without the need for permanent infrastructure. Post-event, it can be swiftly disassembled and relocated, offering immense flexibility and convenience.

The project aims to make a significant impact on the high-density mobile traffic landscape, driving the adoption of open mobile networks and creating a more connected and empowered world. Importantly, the project takes a Zero-Footprint Approach, with only Radios and TX equipment being deployed on-site, which helps minimise the environmental footprint, making our solution ideal for temporary, event-based deployments.

Project BEACH

BEACH is led by Dense Air, alongside EE, VMO2, Sitenna, Radisys, West Sussex County Council and University of Glasgow. The project deployment at Worthing, a popular holiday destination in the UK with daily and seasonal population fluctuation, will create far greater capacity on the network and enable visitors to better access 4G/5G services.

The project will create a scalable shared network solution for HDD “energy efficient” 4G and 5G Small Cell deployment, delivering low-impact, easily deployable RAN on Council assets. RIC-based energy efficient optimisation will also dramatically reduce overall power consumption in peak and quiet periods.

BEACH will also roll out a “world’s first” shared deployment infrastructure, based on a UK MNO JOTS framework and O-RAN, meaning all equipment is operator neutral. Initially, the Platform will support two UK MNOs (VMO2 and EE), who have both committed to network integration.

VMware has provided the RIC and xApps for the project.

Project ARIANE

ARIANE is led by Telecom Infra Project (TIP), alongside BT, Accenture, Viavi, HCL Technologies and Amdocs. The project looks to show the benefits of a multi-vendor RAN environment, demonstrating that all vendors can work together on live networks.

As the demand for wireless connectivity accelerates, mobile network operators are faced with the challenge to expand and upgrade RAN quickly and cost-effectively. This project will validate the network performance benefits generated through the application of energy reduction, advanced traffic steering, and dynamic QoS-based resource allocation AI/ML algorithms. By utilising a vendor-neutral environment, it will create a lower barrier to purchase and enable the deployment of multi-vendor Open RAN systems.

VMware’s is set to deliver centralised RIC (cRIC), decentralised RIC (dRIC) and xAPP / rAPP support.