October 13, 2022

Mobile UK Joins New Advisory Board and Industry Groups to support Open RAN development

Mobile UK, as the representative body for the UK's leading MNOs, EE/BT, Three, O2/Virgin Media, Vodafone UK, is joining  a new Strategic Advisory Board and Industry Group set up by Digital Catapult to support its cutting edge Open RANtestbed, SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs.

Digital Catapult, in partnership with Ofcom, today is announcing the creation of a new Strategic Advisory Board and Industry Group to support its cutting edge Open RANtestbed, SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs.

SONIC Labs is a programme from Digital Catapult and Ofcom, funded by DCMS, to allow new solution providers to enter the telecoms supply chain in the UK. It will drive forward the rollout of a new wireless communication technology known as Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN), which enables mobile networks to be built using a variety of different equipment suppliers.

The Strategic Advisory Board will provide insight and advice to the SONIC Labs Programme on its activities to support 5G diversification in the UK -  developing a model for delivering the technical and innovation capabilities required to diversify UK 5G supply chains. The board represents public and private stakeholders from across the telecoms ecosystem - including DCMS, Ofcom, representatives of Open RAN Vendors (such as Mavenir), System Integrators (such as NEC), as well as potential adopters of Open RAN operators and neutral hosts such as Freshwave.

Th eIndustry Groups, meanwhile, will look to encourage growth and investment in the UK telecom sector, supporting all players and organisations to maximise their role in the supply chain and innovate accordingly. The groups will include:

  • The Mobile Network Industry Group, chaired by Mobile UK, will look to draw on Open RAN expertise from across industry and includes representatives from the four leading UK MNOs, including EE/BT, Three, O2/Virgin Media and Vodafone UK. As key adopters of Open RAN technology and products, mobile operators will provide invaluable insight on new product requirements, as well as exposure to new innovators participating in SONIC Labs.
  • The Wireless Infrastructure Industry Group, bringing together Wireless Infrastructure, Neutral Host and Telecoms Services Providers to support the SONIC Labs programme and UK Government ambitions, with representatives from Wireless Infrastructure Group, Verizon UK, Freshwave and Circet. This group represents the network deployment ecosystem in the UK, as well as being potential adopters of Open RAN technologies for neutral host in building and private network deployments.  
  • A Testbed Industry Group will also be created, including commercial, public sector and academic representatives with a research focus on Open RAN and 5G diversification from across the UK and internationally. The group will include global testbeds to explore how SONIC Labs can support international companies looking to participate in the UK Open RAN market.

Hamish MacLeod, Director at Mobile UK, said:

“Mobile UK and the UK’s mobile network operators welcome the opportunity to support SONIC Labs as a member of its Advisory Board and MNO Industry Group. Diversifying the UK’s 5G supply chain is of great strategic importance and SONIC Labs will play a key role in progressing this work.”

Joe Butler, Chief Technology Officer from Digital Catapult said:

“5G promises greater efficiency and productivity for businesses, more scope to slash carbon emissions, and better broadband for consumers. By understanding perspectives with key telecoms stakeholders on developments and needs in 5G supply chains, we’ll be able to support new entrants and innovators in making this happen.
“We’re excited to bring together influential leaders from across telecommunications to help drive forward our SONIC Labs programme, supporting the aim to help diversify the UK 5G supply chain.”

Sachin Jogia, Ofcom’s Chief Technology Officer, said:

“The SONIC Labs project is playing a vital role in supporting the telecoms supply chains of the future – helping to make sure they are safe, secure and open to a diverse range of suppliers. To have some of the telecomsindustry’s leading companies involved is another major step forwards, and we’re delighted to have them on board. Their expertise and real-world experience of operating telecoms networks will be crucial as this innovative project enters its next phase.”

The first board and industry group meetings will take place this Autumn, with the groups set to provide strategic guidance for the duration of the SONIC Labs programme.

Notes to Editors

Members of the Strategic Advisory Board include:

Jeremy Silver - CEO -Digital Catapult

Joe Butler - CTO - Digital Catapult

Paul Ceely - Director ofTechnology Strategy and Programme Lead - Digital Catapult

Dritan Kaleshi - Director of Technology - 5G and Programme Lead - Digital Catapult

Simon Burley - Programme Director, Emerging Technology - Ofcom

Scott Bailey - Head ofTelecoms Diversification - DCMS

Simon Rowell - Head of Programme Development -DCMS

Alex Cleaves - SONIC Labs Portfolio Manager -DCMS

Tom Bennett - CTO - Freshwave

Bob Slorach - CTO - Wireless Infrastructure Group

Simon Saunders -  Honorary Professor, University of Bristol Smart Internet Lab, Visiting Professor, King's College London and Fellow at Royal Academy of Engineering

Stefano Cantarelli - CMO and Executive Vice President - Mavenir

Hamish MacLeod - Director -Mobile UK

Gary Collins - GM, Head ofSales - UK&I - NEC

Sophie James - Head of Telecoms and Spectrum Policy - techUK

Dimitra Simeonidou -Co-Director - Institute of Digital Futures - University of Bristol / UKTIN

Vish Mathur - Global Headof Engagement - Telecoms Infra Project

Members of the Mobile Network Operator Industry Group include:

Mobile UK


O2/Virgin Media





Digital Catapult

Members of the Wireless Infrastructure Industry Group include:





Verizon UK

Wireless Infrastructure Group




Digital Catapult

Members of the Testbed Industry Group will be appointed in the coming months.

About Building Mobile Britain

Building Mobile Britain logo

Building Mobile Britain is a campaign created by Mobile UK seeking to work with national and local government, as well as interested industry groups to overcome the challenges we face with expanding the existing mobile networks, while also developing innovative services for customers.

See here for further information - or #BuildingMobileBritain

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Tel: 07887 911 076

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