Julia Lopez – 2022 Statement on Telecoms Diversification

The statement made by Julia Lopez, the Minister of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in the House of Commons on 8 December 2022.

I would like to inform the House that today the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is announcing a joint statement on telecoms diversification alongside the Governments of Australia, Canada and the United States of America. This further progresses His Majesty’s Government’s efforts to build global support for our approach to telecoms diversification and identify tangible opportunities for collaboration with a range of international partners as set out in the 5G supply chain diversification strategy in 2020, and following the recommendations of the telecoms diversification taskforce in 2021.

The joint statement marks the one-year anniversary of the 2021 Prague proposals on telecommunications supplier diversity, to which our four Governments have reaffirmed our commitment. It also announces the endorsement of the UK’s open RAN principles by the Governments of Australia, Canada and the United States of America, which I would like to welcome.

Collectively, these Governments hold a shared view that open and interoperable solutions could help to create a more diverse, competitive and innovative telecoms supply market. To support this we intend to work together across a number of areas ranging from sharing information on our respective policy approaches to supporting greater transparency in industry-led standard-setting processes. We also intend to seek ongoing support from other likeminded countries truly to realise the benefits of a diverse telecoms supply chain on a global scale.

This announcement builds on the strong progress we have made to increase the resilience and security of the UK’s telecoms critical national infrastructure since the publication of the 5G supply chain diversification strategy, which is backed by the £250 million open networks fund committed at the 2021 spending review. The fund aims to accelerate the adoption of open RAN solutions as a means to diversify the market. It includes research and development interventions of up to £36 million for the Future RAN Competition, up to £25 million for the Future Open Networks Research Challenge, as well as funding for testing facilities such as the SmartRAN Open Networks Interoperability Centre, and the UK Telecoms Lab. HM Government has also previously announced a joint ambition with UK mobile network operators to increase the share of open and interoperable equipment in UK networks by 2030. Indeed, we are also seeing positive progress from industry, for example, Vodafone and Telefonica have now deployed their first live open RAN sites, with both using new market entrants.

While there is still more to do, today represents a significant milestone in the Government’s efforts to grow international consensus on telecoms diversification. In order to support a lasting and meaningful change it will be crucial for the global community to work together. I am grateful to the Governments of Australia, Canada and the United States of America and look forward to working with them, along with partners around the world, to achieve our vision of a more innovative, competitive and diverse telecoms supply market. Full details of the announcement will be published on www.gov.uk today.