DCMS Competition awards over £30M for Future Ran

As one of the 14 projects selected within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Future RAN Competition (FRANC), AceAxis in partnership with Multiple Access Communications  (MAC) plans to develop a Future RAN Radio Test system for  developers of 5G radio access network remote radio units(RRUs).

This development starting in Q1 2022, builds upon current AceAxis LTE products and utilises MAC core skills in telecoms system PHY layer and FPGA based development, together enhancing 5G Future RAN test capability within the UK.

Radio test systems have historically required customized, “home-brewed” test setups that are difficult to support. Often as much time and cost is spent debugging the test setup as is spent designing the radio. This creates a significant barrier to entry for radio developers, as the development team not only requires radio expertise but also requires digital skills to develop baseband emulators.

Future RAN interfaces are clearly defined. Using these interfaces, along with 3GPP definitions provides the opportunity for this Future RAN Radio Test system to become the trusted industry standard for developing 5G radios. By allowing radio developers to focus on their areas of expertise, the Future RAN Radio Test system will reduce barriers to entry and encourage 5G radio supply chain diversification.

The Future RAN Radio Test system will provide a standardised, cost-effective, off-the-shelf solution that performs all of the key RF measurements and tests the Future RAN optical interface, all in a single unit. This standardised solution will encourage new entrants to focus on innovation of the radio and antenna, whilst supporting fast development and integration of radios. It will accelerate the adoption of Future RAN and further support supply chain diversification.

Commenting of the award AceAxis CEO Steve Cooper, said “for the past decade, our test and measurement equipment has been widely used by 3G and 4G telecom vendors. We look forward to working with MAC to enhance our test equipment and support the 5G Future RAN community with a standardised, off-the-shelf solution covering the key RF requirements”

MAC Ltd’s Managing Director, David Kenyon, said “the growth in cellular radio was the foundation of our business and having provided our expertise to the industry over four decades we are excited to embark on the next stage in that journey and about the opportunities that Future RAN presents”.

The FRANC £36M funding forms part of the government’s 5G Diversification Strategy which aims to “reduce over-reliance on a small number of telecoms vendors” and has seen DCMS support a UK-wide range of R&D projects focused on Future Radio Access Network technology.


AceAxis, formed in the UK in 2005 have developed commercially successful test and measurement equipment for 4G and have 16 years of experience in designing, testing and deploying RRH’s for 3G, 4G and 5G networks.

Multiple Access Communications Limited (MAC Ltd), founded in 1986 the company has a wealth of experience in the specification, design and implementation of wireless systems.  Building on mobile cellular industry heritage from the early days of GSM (2G) MAC Ltd has worked on all of the subsequent generations (3G, 4G and now 5G) as well as many allied technologies such as TETRA, Bluetooth, WiFi, Zigbee and satellite systems.  MAC Ltd  has in-depth knowledge of the fundamental technologies which wireless solutions are built upon, eg, radio frequency systems, modulation, error correction coding, equalisation, FDMA, TDMA, CDMA, OFDM, and their specific application within  many commercial standards.


New £30 million competition to make UK a pioneer in building 5G networks – GOV.UK

Future RAN: Diversifying the 5G Supply Chain Competition Winners – GOV.UK