The UK government committed to set aside £250 million for 5G supply chain diversification, a strategy which could see the country boost its investment in open RAN technology.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak revealed the investment during an annual spending review, with the funding falling under the government’s transformative digital infrastructure programmes.
This includes spending on a shared Rural Network for 4G, local fibre networks, and 5G diversification and testbed initiatives.
The government’s commitment to diversifying its 5G supply chain was prompted by a decision earlier this year to brand Chinese vendor Huawei as a high-risk vendor, and a subsequent ban on the company supplying related equipment to mobile operators.
In September, it moved to recruit a panel of eight industry experts to help investigate ways to attract new 5G equipment suppliers and discuss development of open RAN.
The task force includes major open RAN backer Vodafone UK’s CTO Scott Petty; former BT CEO Ian Livingston; and Openreach CEO Clive Selley. It is tasked with providing advice on an ongoing review into supply chains of fixed and mobile providers.
In addition, it said it would look at attracting new vendors to the UK market and explore ways to incentivise R&D into emerging technologies including open RAN.
Sunak did not provide any further details on how it will use the £250 million.