AWTG leads SCONDA Project addressing the challenges of High-Density Demand environments


AWTG is delighted to lead the SCONDA (Small Cells ORAN in Dense Areas) Project, a groundbreaking effort to address the technical and commercial challenges unique to High-Density Demand areas. The project aims to integrate ORAN (OpenRAN) and Traditional RAN in a high density, high demand environment, effectively handling live traffic. The SCONDA project is the first in the world of its kind, an integrated ORAN system to a traditional RAN system that uses 4 different vendors in a single high density demand area carrying live traffic.

Along with AWTG leading the multi-million project awarded by DSIT are top industry partners, including Three, Boldyn Networks, Accenture, University of Surrey, Mavenir, University of Glasgow, The Scotland 5G Centre, PI Works.

By creating a small cell densification layer in high demand urban spots, SCONDA seeks to ease the load on the macro traffic and improve customer experience. The project will further enable network performance automation within the challenging radio environment of Glasgow City Centre. Ultimately, the project will demonstrate the successful deployment, integration, and management of OpenRAN within the wider Three network in Glasgow and assess its quality and capacity against that of a traditional RAN network.

The SCONDA project aims to enhance the ORAN system through automation and softwarisation, creating a platform accessible to participants in the Open Network Ecosystem (ONE) project. The methodologies and lessons learned from the project ensures continuous growth of ORAN and the Open Network Ecosystem in General. This automation and softwarisation will be developed as a platform and will made available through APIs to the any participants to the initiative of an Open Network Ecosystem, starting in the UK and gradually across the globe.

An objective of this project is to prove new architectures for ORAN small cells that can be deployed with commercially viable dark fibre and endpoints, thus providing an economic model that will enable a higher count of small cells to be deployed locally in an HDD scenario. If the model can be re-used nationally, it would help stimulate widespread adoption of ORAN small cells in many parts of the country and thus advance on the government’s ambition for 35% of mobile network traffic to be on ORAN technologies.

This project further seeks to demonstrate the world’s first publicly available 5G ORAN connected to a Reconfigurable Intelligent Surface (RIS); this has the potential to change the architecture of 5G networks by defining a new node and expanding coverage without emitting a new electromagnetic wave, a most power-efficient approach and will form the basis of uninterrupted wireless connectivity at reduced cost, lower power consumption and TCO.

Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure Sir John Whittingdale said:

“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.

“In order to secure that, we need to embrace a diverse and secure range of technology that will underpin the network.

“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.”

Abbey Alidoosti, CEO of AWTG said:

“AWTG is very proud to be leading the winning consortium, SCONDA, for the DSIT Open Network Ecosystem (ONE) Competition. The SCONDA project is the first in the world to integrate Open RAN (ORAN) to an existing Traditional RAN in a live and high-density demand environment. The SCONDA consortium are made up strong partners with proven track record in the industry and together we will create positive impact towards a truly open network ecosystem in the UK. AWTG’s continued investment in Open RAN (ORAN) demonstrates our commitment to innovation and having these innovations deployed and proven in the most challenging real-world settings”. 

Soufiane Ayed Senior RAN Strategy & Architecture Manager Transport at Three, said:

“The SCONDA project represent a unique opportunity for Three to demonstrate its commitment to DSIT ambition to carry 35% of the UK’s network traffic over open and interoperable RAN architectures by 2030.  Three with its current multivendor RAN network, regards this project as a show case of collaboration between multiple partners to help maturing open RAN deployment in complex dense environments, while enabling and leveraging automation to ensure open RAN coexistence with the traditional RAN”. 

Billy D’Arcy, UK & Ireland Chief Executive of Boldyn Networks, said:

“Boldyn Networks is committed to investing in infrastructure within the UK – enhancing connectivity, enabling digital transformation, and fostering economic growth. We are proud to be a winning consortium for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s (DSIT) Open Network Ecosystem (ONE) competition, and we look forward to working with our consortium partners Three UK, Glasgow City Council, and CityFibre to deploy open RAN solutions at scale in a real-world setting. The neutral host approach has a pivotal role to play in the rollout of advanced wireless networks and will help to deliver on the objectives of the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy.” 

Jefferson Wang, Global Network Practice Lead, Accenture, said:

“This collaboration aims to demonstrate seamless deployment, integration and management of Open RAN technology alongside traditional networks, enabling innovation in network infrastructure in the UK. Accenture is taking the lead in executing performance benchmarks. Given the disaggregated, cloud-based nature of the network, comprehensive testing and benchmarking of multi-vendor, diverse solutions, both vertically and horizontally, is imperative to ensure reliability and optimal end-user performance.”  

To read more about SCONDA, click here.

Notes to editors

The Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) competition is part of the government’s £250 million 5G Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, fostering telecoms R&D projects including Future RANCompetition (FRANC), Future Open Networks Research Challenge, and entities like SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre (SONIC Labs), UK Telecoms Innovation Network, and UK Telecoms Lab.

ONE launched on 14 March 2023, offering organisations funding to develop software and hardware products for enhanced open and interoperable technology, including funding for demonstrations of Open RAN technologies in high-demand density environments.

The UK government’s Open RAN Principles set out the characteristics that open-interface solutions, such as Open RAN, should possess in order to deliver on the UK’s 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy’s goals for resilient and secure networks with competitive and innovative supply chains.

The UK government and UK mobile network operators have a joint ambition to carry 35% of the UK’s mobile network traffic over open and interoperable RAN architectures by 2030. Read the joint statement here.