Digital & IT

Dorset Council set for big research project to advance county's mobile networks

By Giles Gwinnett [email protected]

Published: September 20, 2023 | Updated: 15th November 2023

Dorset Council and international partners have secured millions of pounds of government funding to advance cheaper and greener mobile networks across the county.

The UK Government wants to see a wider range of so-called “open” equipment across networks, such as radios and microchips, which can “plug and play” across different manufacturers to diversify the supply chain.

The Dorset Open Network Ecosystem (DONE) project will run until March, 2025 and assess how cutting-edge technology can transform the roll-out of mobile networks in rural areas.

Councillor Jill Haynes, who holds the portfolio for corporate development and transformation at Dorset Council, said: “I am delighted that we have been successful in securing £3.6 million from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology on their Open Networks Ecosystem programme.

“Dorset Council will be leading a consortium of industry partners, many of which have worked with us on high profile Government projects previously, such as the multi-award winning 5G RuralDorset.

“Research and technology projects like this are crucial for driving innovation in very rural locations such as those that make up the beautiful county of Dorset and will ensure that we don’t get left behind,” she added.

“This work will help pave the way for cheaper, faster and more environmentally friendly connectivity in hard-to-reach areas and will have a positive effect far beyond the borders of Dorset,” she said.

There have already been numerous successful digital innovation projects in Dorset, including with partners Vodafone, Strathclyde University, Neutral Networks, Telint and Dorset based technology company Kimcell.

The team is also collaborating with global chip designer Arm and Keysight Technologies, global leader in test and measurement, as well as SMEs Wildanet and Illuminate.

Sir John Whittingdale, the government minister for data and digital infrastructure, added: “The projects we’re backing today with £88 million in Government research and development investment will use innovative Open RAN solutions to make our mobile networks more adaptable and resilient, with future-proofed technology to support bringing lightning-fast connections across the country for many years to come.”

He added: “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.”

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