Plexal is exploring the role of SMEs in the UK’s telecoms market with a 12-week sprint

Plexal telecoms challenge

Plexal is working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) to support the diversification of the UK’s telecoms market and stimulate the creation of products and services from SMEs and startups. Minister of State at DCMS Julia Lopez announced the project at techUK’s Our Network Future event today.

We’ve worked with leaders from the telecoms market to assess where there could be opportunities for SMEs to provide products or services. We then identified SMEs that will take part in a 12-week sprint. Together, we will develop robust business cases, technology roadmaps and investment plans. The aim is to create a diverse commercial ecosystem for private 5G networks that enables large and small vendors to play a role.

The SMEs will work with Plexal, the government and industry to carve out and develop opportunities and overcome any barriers that exist for startups and SMEs to play an active role in the telecoms market. These barriers could include making sure the products are interoperable and have robust cybersecurity built in.

Plexal is looking at current and future 5G private networks in two categories:

  • Fully private, where the value outcome remains isolated from the public
  • Private today, but will need to integrate to the public network to realise all the benefits

The sprint will support the UK government’s aim of developing a domestic capability for 5G and making sure the telecoms market includes a diverse range of vendors – including a larger number of small and medium-sized companies.

It follows the publication of the Telecoms Diversification Taskforce report, which provided independent expert advice to the government on the delivery of the 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy. The report suggested that private networks could prove to be a useful testing ground for innovation in the telecoms sector.

Andrew Roughan

Commenting on the innovation challenge, Andrew Roughan, our managing director, said:

“We think there’s a big opportunity to understand and develop the role of SMEs in the telecoms market.

“Our open collaboration model, which is bringing industry, the government and SMEs together in a pre-competitive environment, is a novel way to approach the challenge of how the UK creates a diverse telecoms market that supports the creation of homegrown, sovereign technology.”

If you’d like to join our telecoms mailing list, learn more about our sprint or bring your own innovation challenge to us, get in touch.