Digital Catapult unveils five companies to explore the potential of Open RAN technology on its SONIC Labs test bed, Open RAN

  • Digital Catapult, with support from partner Ofcom, has onboarded five companies into its SONIC Labs program to test the integration of Open RAN (Radio Access Network) products into working end-to-end systems
  • Participating organizations will work collaboratively with each other, Digital Catapult and Ofcom to integrate and test their products in laboratory and indoor mobile network environments, accelerating their journey to market
  • This is part of the government’s £15 million investment in the SONIC Labs program to diversify the global telecommunications supply chain and provide fast, secure and reliable connectivity

Digital Catapult, in partnership with Ofcom, gave five companies the opportunity to accelerate the development of their Open RAN products, as part of the next phase of its SONIC Labs program.

SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs is a two-year program from Digital Catapult and Ofcom, funded by DCMS, to enable new solution providers to enter the UK telecommunications supply chain. It will advance the deployment of a new wireless communication technology known as Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN), which allows mobile networks to be built using a variety of different equipment vendors.

Digital Catapult will help the five organizations integrate their Open RAN products into end-to-end functional systems, enabling testing in indoor mobile network settings. The program creates a collaborative environment to test how easily different Open RAN products, solutions and services from multiple vendors can integrate and exchange information.

Organizations – all Open RAN vendors – will share best practices around implementing Open RAN standards, solve specific Open RAN integration challenges, collaborate with new partners to build knowledge, and even have the opportunity to present their products to potential customers and end-users.

Accelerating the adoption of Open RAN technology has the potential to diversify the UK’s 5G supply chain so that it is future-ready, making it more secure and accessible to new entrants into the world. market.

In addition to access to Digital Catapult’s advanced facilities and technical support, participants will also have the opportunity to take part in thought leadership events throughout and beyond the six-month technical program, and benefit from networking and targeted innovation activities to accelerate their journey to commercialization. .

Participating companies include:


Benetel is based in Dublin, Ireland, and is a company dedicated to supplying 5G ORAN (O-RU) radio units to communications service providers and private networks. They will participate by providing a Radio Unit (RU) in this cohort.

Without cable

The other SONIC Laboratories radio unit will be supplied by CableFree: Wireless Excellence, a UK-based equipment supplier with a customer base deployed in over 80 countries. The company designs and manufactures high-performance wireless connectivity products, including 5G Macro and Small Cell radios.


Effnet is a Sweden-based company dedicated to providing 5G RAN software components to communication service providers as well as a wide variety of applications including private networks and non-terrestrial networks. They will provide a distributed unit (DU) and a centralized unit (UC) to the program and bring more than 20 years of experience in the field of research and development of efficient networks.


IS-Wireless is a Poland-based company specializing in the development of software-defined 4G and 5G mobile networks. The company has been recognized as one of the few European RAN providers by major telecom operators in their November 2021 report “Building an Open RAN Ecosystem for Europe”. IS-Wireless contributes to the program by bringing a centralized unit (CU) and will bring the L2 stack, which is part of the distributed unit (DU).


Phluido is a pioneering front-end technology and cellular network virtualization company from San Diego, California. The company will be responsible for providing the physical layer of a distributed unit (DU) to the SONIC Labs program.

Other companies will be announced in the coming months.

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