Making waves in future mobile networks

University of Sheffield researchers are involved in a successful £7.3m Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) bid to work on a project to help reduce reliance on single suppliers in the UK’s telecommunications network.

An image of a city scape with an abstract graphic representation of mobile networks

The Yorkshire Open Radio Access Network (YO-RAN) project will see University of Sheffield academics partner with the University of York, both leading Universities in wireless communications research, with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West, and businesses across the Yorkshire region. The aim is to conduct research and development to help change the way that mobile radio base stations can connect with each other and the core telecommunications network.

The project will test ways to help move the UK’s mobile network towards a resilient, interoperable approach, allowing a diversity of suppliers, strengthening UK research and development capabilities as 5G rolls out and 6G is standardised. 

YO-RAN will operate within the expected Open RAN network architecture, comprising the Radio Unit (O-RU), Distributed Unit (O-DU), Centralised Unit (O-CU), Core, RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) and transport/hosting technology, including the fronthaul connections between the O-RU and the O-DU. The focus of the project is the development of new O-RU and RIC technologies. 

A key challenge in deploying public neutral host services on Open RAN technology is the availability of Radio Units (RUs) with the appropriate capabilities, including configurable multiband and wideband capabilities, this requires challenging advances in the radio frequency (RF) technology incorporated into the RU. Developing such a versatile O-RU is the primary objective of the research to be carried out at the University of Sheffield, led by Professor Timothy O’Farrell.


Photograph of Professor Tim O'Farrell
Photograph of Professor Tim O'Farrell

Professor O’Farrell, Chair in Wireless Communication in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said:

I'm delighted to be participating in the YO-RAN project, which will drive the development of future 5G and 6G Open Network solutions in the UK.

The project will address critical bottlenecks in today's systems relating to flexibility, energy efficiency and security, helping to establish UK technologies as important solutions in future mobile networks.

I look forward to working with YO-RAN's team of world-class academic and industrial experts. The YO-RAN project will help grow a strong regional wireless industry, as well as strengthen the UK's telecom research and development capability.

Professor Timothy O'Farrell

Chair in Wireless Communication at the University of Sheffield and research collaborator within the YO-RAN project

The YO-RAN project is funded by DCMS as part of the UK government’s Future Open Networks Research Challenge (FONRC).

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