Airspan aims to tap U.K.’s interest in open RAN

Sussex, England
Airspan joins Mavenir and Vodafone, which have also set up open RAN labs in the U.K., recently. (Graham-H/Pixaby)

Airspan Networks plans to open a 5G Innovation Lab this month at its Slough, U.K. offices outside of London in order to accelerate the adoption of open RAN. Airspan joins Mavenir and Vodafone, which have also set up open RAN labs in the U.K., recently.

In addition to developing open RAN software, Airspan intends for the lab to serve other purposes, too, such as being a showcase and demonstration facility for customers and partners, developing 5G sub 6 GHz and mmWave indoor and outdoor equipment and working on private network use cases.

The lab is expected to feature end-to-end 5G open RAN technology supplied by Airspan, including CU, DU and RIC software and mmWave and sub 6 GHz radios.

It will allow for interoperability testing with a 5G core, equipment from other RAN vendors, common off the shelf servers and cloud-native platforms.

Open RAN labs

Others have already set up open RAN labs in the U.K.

Vodafone has been a vocal advocate for open RAN and wants to ensure products live up to the promise. Located on its Newbury headquarter's campus, Vodafone’s new R&D lab aims to help open RAN vendors refine products and enter the market more easily.

In April, Mavenir said it was opening a center in Swindon, U.K. to develop open RAN radio software.

RELATED: Vodafone hopes to avoid open RAN Catch-22, launches U.K. lab

Asked why Airspan is opening a new lab and not simply collaborating with Vodafone or Mavenir, Abel Mayal, Airspan’s SVP of technology and marketing, said in an email to Fierce, “Our lab will help us to drive our vision, which is aligned with the U.K. government’s Supply Chain Diversification plan.”
 
The U.K. Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said in a statement, "We're investing £450 million to explore how 5G can boost the economy while also building confidence and competition in this revolutionary technology. Airspan's new lab of telecoms innovators will develop cutting-edge 5G networks and help create jobs and a more secure and diverse U.K. telecoms supply chain.”

Airspan also said the creation of its 5G innovation lab is part of the company’s plans to expand its presence in the U.K. and significantly increase the number of its U.K.-based software engineers.

Mayal said, “We expect to add and expand innovation labs in other countries as well, including the U.S.