UK Craves 5G Gains via India Partnerships

The UK Research and Innovation-funded projects were announced as part of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s visit to India.

The UK government has unveiled two UK-India collaborations as it tries to boost the nation’s 5G networks and telecoms.

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-funded projects, announced as part of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s visit to India, are part of a wider UKRI collaboration with the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The first one is a UK-India Future Networks Initiative (UKI-FNI), a £1.4 million project led by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with other UK and Indian universities.

This is designed to build the capability, capacity and relationships between the two countries in “telecoms diversification technologies and research for 5G and beyond”.

The other comprises a £180,000 grant to the Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult to explore opportunities for further UK-India collaboration on the needs of future telecoms networks.

UK Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure Julia Lopez says the partnership “will bring together our nations’ finest minds to reduce the world’s over-reliance on a small number of firms to build and maintain the networks that are so vital to society and the global economy”.

Sanjeev K Varshney, Head of International Cooperation at the Indian DST, calls the announcement “very timely”.

As has been widely reported in the mainstream media, both countries will stop using Chinese firms like Huawei and ZTE.

Last year the BBC reported that the UK’s mobile providers were banned from buying new Huawei 5G equipment after 31 December 2020, and they must also remove all the Chinese firm’s 5G kit from their networks by 2027.

The National Cyber Security Centre also wrote to UK telecoms providers some time ago warning them that the use of ZTE’s equipment and services poses a risk to UK security.

There is of course the matter of the UK seeking more non-European deals in a post-Brexit world.

In terms of today’s (25 October) announcement, UKI-FNI will work to establish joint use testbeds to explore some of the challenges in the adoption of 5G.

Funded by UKRI India and UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), it will also develop a joint Indo-UK roadmap and research strategy for 5G.

Through the funding announced today, CSA Catapult, supported by UKRI’s Innovate UK, will explore opportunities for companies and universities to collaborate on UK-India joint research and innovation projects to meet the requirements for future telecom networks.

Five technology streams will be explored to address the dual challenges of digital access while reducing energy usage across the network.

UKRI and India have co-invested more than £330 million in joint programmes and £450 million in further funding from public, non-profit and industry partners, as outlined in the ‘UK-India: Partnerships for Growth with Research and Innovation’ report.

In other 5G-related news, last week tech startup Net AI was spun out from the University of Edinburgh with plans to offer a new route to 5G network management.

Net AI uses new artificial intelligence and cloud computing techniques to provide real-time insights into network demand, telling mobile network operators what services are being used at “any location at any given moment, and in what amount”.

Antony Peyton
Antony Peyton is the Editor of eWeek UK and has 17 years' journalism and writing experience. His career has taken him to China, Japan and the UK - covering tech, fintech and business. Follow on Twitter @TonyFintech.

Popular Articles