2G and 3G to be phased out by 2033 and O-RAN to take 35% of UK network by 2030

Today, the government is announcing plans to phase out 2G and 3G mobile networks by 2033 and facilitate multi-vendor O-RAN networks taking 35% of the network by 2030.

The announcement follows the ban on Huawei equipment from 5G networks and the recent introduction of the Telecommunications Security Act

The government has agreed with the UK mobile network operators (MNOs) Vodafone, EE, Virgin Media O2 and Three that 2033 will be the date by which all public 2G and 3G networks in the UK will be switched off.

The plans will free up spectrum to allow for the mass rollout of 5G and future networks such as 6G.

The new plans include a joint ambition for 35% of the UK’s mobile network traffic to be carried over Open RAN by 2030.

A current barrier for new suppliers entering the UK’s 5G market is that they must, as it stands, offer 2G or 3G services because they are required by all four domestic mobile operators. 

Setting out a timeline for winding down these services follows recommendations from the Diversification Taskforce and will allow new suppliers to enter the market by giving them certainty on when they can start work building 5G networks across Britain.

Some individual operators will switch off their networks, particularly their 3G networks, earlier than 2033, and will announce their own plans on timing. 

The government has revealed the winners of its £36 million competition to fund  R&D projects across the UK to develop O-RAN technology.

The 15 winning consortiums in the Future Radio Access Network Competition (FRANC )will develop technical solutions – such as radio transmitters, signal processing equipment, power management systems and the software – required to roll out open RAN solutions across the UK quickly and attract  new home-grown telecoms suppliers to the 5G supply chain.

In a boost to levelling up, the investment will be spread across the UK , including Glasgow, Cardiff, Cambridge, Newcastle, Newport, Slough and Ebbw Vale.

The government is also announcing a cash injection of up to £15 million for SONIC Labs – a test facility based in London and Brighton and run by Digital Catapult with the support of Ofcom to enable telecoms suppliers to test their early stage products in real-world mobile network settings.

SONIC Labs opened in June 2021 with an investment of £1 million. The extra £15 million will be invested so the Lab can expand its programme of testing and international engagement. The new FRANC winners are expected to work closely with the labs.

FRANC Winners

  • Full details on the individual FRANC winners have been published online.

Read original News here: https://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/business/2g-3g-phased-o-ran-take-35-uk-network-2030-2021-12/

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