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£4.7m project aims to give manufacturers more 5G choices

25 March, 2024

A consortium of UK organisations has embarked on a year-long £4.7m project to explore ways that manufacturers could benefit from a 5G mobile network architecture that will allow them to use non-proprietary sub-components. The FoFoRan (Factory of the Future Open Ran) project will allow different companies’ technologies to work together, instead of users having to rely on single suppliers.

The programme has secured £2.7m of funding from the government’s Open Networks Research and Development Fund, which is being match-funded by industry. It is being led by AMRC North West – part of the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) innovation cluster – with BAE Systems, Dassault Systèmes, aql, Productive Machines and SafeNetics as partners. The Royal Air Force and the communications company Telent are affiliate partners.

Dr Aparajithan Sivanathan, head of digital technology at AMRC North West, says there is a big demand from manufacturers of all sizes for the higher bandwidths and near-zero latency that 5G offers.

“The current choice of manufacturing industries for 5G deployment is single-vendor solutions, but it’s an option that in some ways, is inflexible and does not address all the unique requirements of advanced use cases of connected manufacturing and is unaffordable for smaller manufacturing businesses,” he points out. “Individual manufacturers need the freedom to choose components that are fit-for-purpose, have network vendor options, equipment suppliers and services at varying costs.

The FoFoRan project aims to give manufacturers more choices when implementing 5G systems

“Open Ran (radio access network) has the potential to be more affordable, interoperable, secure, reliable and provide the capabilities needed in industry.”

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