NEC and Freshwave project selected for UK’s Open RAN competition

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NEC and Freshwave have been selected for Project NAVIGATE as part of the UK Government’s Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) competition.

ONE is part of the government’s ambitious £250 million 5G Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, aimed at nurturing pioneering research and development projects in the telecom sector.

Tom Bennett, CTO at Freshwave, said: “We’re excited to have been successful in the Open Networks Ecosystem Competition and looking forward to collaborating with the other members of the consortium. As a leading neutral host provider, advancing shareable infrastructure through telecoms ecosystem collaboration is in our DNA, and part of our day-to-day delivery for customers.

“The more shareable the digital infrastructure, the more reduced the costs—leading to wider use cases quicker and, subsequently, more community and economic benefits. And our experience has shown that this all becomes even more true when we stay true to our fundamental design principle that the operators retain full architectural and operational control.”


Project NAVIGATE, with a substantial budget of £7.42 million, focuses on crafting a blueprint for the deployment of open and shareable 4G and 5G capacity in High-Density Deployment (HDD) environments.

The project’s primary goal is to showcase the feasibility and reliability of Open RAN technologies, a cutting-edge approach that promises a more flexible and efficient network infrastructure. NEC and Freshwave, industry leaders in this venture, are collaborating to provide a dense urban area in London with a small cell solution built upon NEC’s Open vRAN software.

This innovative endeavour strives to underline the technical and operational viability of Open RAN solutions. By demonstrating their cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency compared to traditional single RAN networks, NAVIGATE aims to accelerate the adoption of Open RAN technology globally.

The project’s success promises a more connected future for the UK, with enhanced wireless services and improved coverage and capacity, all underpinned by a shared infrastructure.

Government’s vision and industry collaboration

Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, said: “Whether you’re in a busy city centre or a rural village, a fast and reliable mobile connection is vital to staying in touch, accessing services and doing business.

“In order to secure that, we need to embrace a diverse and secure range of technology that will underpin the network.”

By promoting greater openness and lowering barriers to entry for new Open RAN vendors, Project NAVIGATE mirrors the government’s commitment to fostering innovation and collaboration in the telecom sector.

Industry voices: NEC and Freshwave

NEC expressed its enthusiasm at being selected to provide a Neutral Host, Open RAN, High-Density Demand Outdoor Solution.

Hideyuki Ogata, General Manager, 5G Solution Department, NEC, outlined their objective to support the diversification of the telecom supply chain, aligning with the broader industry goal of providing cost-effective and energy-efficient solutions based on Open Standards.

“NEC aims to deploy a reference architecture based on its Open vRAN software that will support the diversification of the telecom supply chain while accelerating market developments to provide a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution based on open standards,” commented Ogata.

“Drawing on NHOD (Neutral Host Outdoor) specifications, our solution will enable mobile network operators to offer new wireless services and improve coverage and capacity, without having to deploy and manage separate infrastructure. NEC’s Open vRAN software solution is a critical part of the strategy for enabling the adoption of Open RAN on a global scale.”

By embracing cutting-edge Open RAN technology, Project NAVIGATE not only promises enhanced connectivity but also sets the stage for a more innovative and collaborative industry landscape.

(Photo by Maayan Nemanov on Unsplash)

See also: UK joins leading nations to strengthen telecoms security and innovation

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