Is York about to become a hub of 5G innovation?

How will ADVA’s new O-RAN Innovation Center help the UK level up and diversify 5G supply chains?
City of York

If I ask you to think of hotbeds of technological innovation across the globe, you’ll probably conjure images of San Francisco, Austin, New York, Taiwan, or Tokyo. Of all the cities you could list, I imagine that York in the northeast of England wouldn’t even feature. In fact, York probably brings to mind medieval architecture, cobbled streets, and well-equipped tea rooms. But that might be about to change, especially in the world of 5G. 

As you may have seen in the media, the UK government is currently involved in a big project to diversify the country’s 5G supply chain and spark a whole new wave of innovation focused on mobile communications. Brought together under the heading of the Future RAN Competition, or FRANC if you’re on first-name terms, the project will produce results that will help to define the 5G space in the UK and far beyond. 

Of all the work currently happening across the length and breadth of the country, I’d like to focus on York and not just because of those tea rooms. The city is set to become the home of a new O-RAN innovation lab. And this is enormously important for a number of reasons.

For the north of England, it’s vital that centers like this are developed. It brings employment to the region, but it will also bring business traffic, which in turn will fuel the local economy. Beyond this, it’s also about the city’s image. As said, York has mastered the historical stuff. Its ancient streets are alive with the ghosts of the past. But what about the present? What about the future? What’s its story?

ADVA’s O-RAN innovation lab will be a hub for the development of products, but it will also be a focal point to demonstrate how they interoperate within the broader ecosphere.

The O-RAN innovation lab is being built by ADVA as part of the 5G DU-Volution project. This is a project with partners including BT, the University of York, the Scotland 5G Centre, AccelerComm and CommAgility. Its purpose is to develop open software and hardware that will help fuel 5G adoption and development, especially for enterprise networks.

Now, for those unfamiliar with O-RAN, this stands for open radio access networks. A radio access network largely revolves around the cell towers you often see in semi-urban environments that collect data from our mobile devices and channel it into the core of the network. The open part of the acronym centers around the type of software and hardware being used. Some networking companies favor a closed approach that locks customers into their products. However, an open ecosphere champions interworking between different companies and leads to a much more creative environment. 

As you may have guessed, ADVA is a strong advocate of open solutions and is building the O-RAN innovation lab to accelerate the adoption of openness within 5G networks. This is no small task, and that’s why the lab is so important. Not only will it be a hub for the development of products, but it will also be a focal point to demonstrate how they interoperate within the broader ecosphere. As such, don’t be surprised if you see people on the York train from some of the world’s largest organizations. These companies will want to see these products in operation. They may also want to visit the tea rooms. 

So, what’s next? 

Well, work on the lab is in full swing, and all the partners in the 5G DU-Volution project are already collaborating on innovation that will take the UK’s 5G industry to a whole new level.

More on that to follow.

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