The Future Open Networks Research Challenge Winners


The Future Open Networks Research Challenge will enable universities to work with large Radio Access Network (RAN) vendors, and other telecoms organisations, to conduct research and development to drive the openness and interoperability of future network architectures. These technologies will need to be commercially attractive to large vendors, MNOs and Venture Capitalists, and promote diversification in future network architectures.

The challenge aims to:

  • Conduct research impacting future technology roadmaps with the goal that openness and interoperability are embedded in future network architectures and systems by default.
  • Contribute to the strengthening of UK influence in Standards Development Organisations (SDOs).
  • Strengthen the UK telecoms R&D ecosystem and telecoms capability.
  • Engage with DCMS,UK Research and Innovation/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN), SONIC Labs and the UK Telecommunications Laboratory (UKTL) and other future relevant government initiatives where appropriate, and actively contribute to the UK’s evolving future networks and 6G vision.

Challenge winners


Total project funding amount



  • Bristol (University of Bristol, Parallel Wireless)
  • Southampton (University of Southampton)
  • Reading (Thales UK)
  • London (King’s College London, Weaver Labs, Digital Catapult, BBC, Samsung, Ericsson)
  • Cambridge (Nokia Bell Labs)
  • Ipswich (BT)
  • Pulborough (Real Wireless)
  • Glasgow (University of Strathclyde)
  • Belfast (Queen’s University Belfast)
  • South Wales (Compound Semiconductor Centre)


  • University of Bristol
  • University of Strathclyde
  • King’s College London
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • University of Southampton
  • Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC)
  • Digital Catapult
  • BT Group
  • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
  • Ericsson
  • Nokia
  • Samsung
  • Parallel Wireless Limited
  • Thales UK
  • Weaver Labs Limited
  • Real Wireless Limited

Project Summary

Realising Enabling Architectures and Solutions for Open Networks (REASON) is a project that brings together an ecosystem representing the entire telecommunication R&D supply chain, including three major mobile network equipment vendors, with a mission to innovate, develop, and industrialise technologies and solutions for future 6G telecommunication networks.

REASON will develop a roadmap for open 6G network architectures, which will set the framework for new developments across the entire technology stack. The project will provide novel solutions to effectively integrate multi-technology access networks and to advance their performance in line with the emerging 6G key performance indicators. New concepts will be proposed to support unprecedented network densification. Smart technologies will be developed that aim to use multi-technology access networks to extract sensing information and support 6G use cases.

In addition, advanced solutions for network-edge and network-wide automation will be developed leveraging state-of-the art Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques. REASON will provide end-to-end service optimisation through cognitive orchestration tools to enable edge-to-edge and domain-domain functionalities for a wide range of use cases.

All the required interfaces and protocols will be defined to assure interoperability of solutions. Sustainability and security by design are underpinning fundamental themes that run through all architectural blocks.

Prof. Dimitra Simeonidou said:

The University of Bristol is delighted to lead this partnership and drive the development of future open 6G network solutions in the UK.  Our project, REASON, is engaging a consortium of partners representing the entire telecoms R&D ecosystem, including leading UK Universities, large equipment vendors, service and content providers and innovative SMEs. REASON will address key technological challenges of delivering End-to-End Open Network solutions, considering all segments and functions of the network. The project will pursue breakthroughs on elevating bottlenecks of current systems, such as interoperability, agility, sustainability, resilience, and security, and will position UK-born technologies as candidates for delivering future solutions.


Total project funding amount



  • 5/6G Innovation Centre The University of Surrey
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • AWTG
  • BAE Systems (BAE)
  • British Telecom (BT)
  • Ericsson
  • InterDigital Europe (IDE)
  • Mavenir
  • Nokia
  • OneWeb (OW)
  • Tactical Wireless
  • Toshiba
  • Viavi Solutions
  • VirginMedia O2 (VMO2)
  • National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
  • Satellite Applications Catapult
  • Imperial College London (IC)
  • King’s College London (KCL)
  • Lancaster University (LU)
  • Queen’s University Belfast (QUB)
  • Strathclyde University (SU)
  • University College London (UCL)
  • University of Glasgow (UoG)
  • AMD Telecom S.A.
  • Qualcomm

Project summary

TUDOR (Towards Ubiquitous 3D Open Resilient Network) is an ambitious research project aiming to solve many societal, environmental and economic grand challenges such as the digital divide and energy efficiency by advanced technology innovations in open telecommunications systems.

Building on the UK Government’s Open-RAN principles, TUDOR will research and develop open network components and their seamless interoperability in the wider RAN, core, and transport network environment and service platforms, applying them across heterogeneous networks in 5G and beyond. This will include terrestrial, airborne (e.g. High-Altitude Platform Systems – HAPS) and satellite networks, which is commonly calledcall 3D Open Network. The plan is also to contribute to future standards (5G, 5GAdvanced and 6G), generate essential IPs and contribute to skills enhancements.

The TUDOR solutions will be tested and demonstrated showcasing both technical capabilities and interoperability.

The TUDOR consortium, led by the University of Surrey’s 5G/6G Innovation Centre (5G/6GIC), brings together world-leading researchers from UK universities, innovative equipment vendors, major network operators and network/software and system integrators from both space and terrestrial sectors. All have extensive experience in delivering collaborative research in advanced wireless and networking technologies.

Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli, 5G/6GIC and ICS Director at the University of Surrey, said

We would like to thank DCMS for launching this programme of research and innovation into Future Open Networks. We are looking forward to working with our strong national and international TUDOR team and making further positive impacts beyond those which we made in the award-winning 5GIC, for the good of society, the environment and the UK economy.


Total project funding amount



  • York
  • Sheffield
    *Shipley (Bradford)
  • Leeds
  • Ipswich
  • Reading


  • University of York (lead)
  • University of Sheffield
  • ADVA
  • AQL
  • BT Group
  • Cellnex
  • Radio Design
  • Slipstream Engineering Design

Project Summary

YO-RAN (Yorkshire Open RAN) brings together two leading Yorkshire universities with a number of suppliers and network operators, several based in and around Yorkshire, to develop Open RAN components and a RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) for Neutral Host Networks – another development which allows the same infrastructure to be used by multiple operators, and also by private or enterprise-based networks.

This requires in particular low-cost generic Radio Units with configurable multiband capabilities which are not currently available, and efficient fronthaul interfaces to connect them with suitable Distributed Units – all configurable via a RIC which can respond to the dynamic needs of all the network users.

University of York’s Professor Alister Burr said

We’re delighted to be leading this important initiative, bringing together two leading Yorkshire universities and a number of significant operators and suppliers. We’re particularly pleased that several of our industrial partners are also based here in the north of England.  Open-RAN has become an important focus of our research in both Universities, and also fits well with the expertise of our industrial partners.  We hope that YO-RAN will help lay the foundations of a new industry in our region especially, as well as strengthening the UK telecoms capability and UK telecoms research and development.

To read more about the Open Networks Programme, please follow this link.

For any enquiries relating to FONRC or the Open Networks Programme in general, please email: [email protected]

To learn more about upcoming opportunities, please register your interest for diversification R&D opportunities.

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