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DoD, NTIA Encourage Open 5G Ecosystem

April 7, 2022
The DoD's and NTIA's "5G Challenge" spurs a competitive effort to develop open interfaces and interoperable components for 5G networks in commercial, industrial, and military use cases.

As 5G wireless cellular network infrastructure is built, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has made clear the importance of 5G communications to future defense systems. In collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the DoD recently announced an incentivized competition to speed the electronics industry’s development of open interfaces and interoperable components for 5G networks that would be usable for commercial, industrial, and military applications.

The DoD and the NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunications Sciences have launched the 5G Challenge Preliminary Event: RAN System Interoperability. The competition will award as much as $3 million in total cash prizes to participants in quest of interface and component solutions for an open 5G ecosystem.

The 5G Challenge seeks to minimize customized, single-vendor network equipment in favor of open interfaces and multiple-vendor components that can be used within 5G networks as “plug-and-play” solutions as needed. Because it's being viewed as an essential technology for global communications, the competition is designed to avoid proprietary 5G interfaces and closed-source hardware. The goal is to accelerate the development of open solutions that can be supplied by any number of vendors but still meet global 5G standards for security.

The Challenge seeks participants with hardware and software submissions compliant with the 3rd Generation Partnership Program (3GPP) Release 15 Standard and O-RAN Alliance Specifications, with all applications submitted by May 5, 2022. Solutions are for the following 5G network subsystems: the distributed unit (DU), central unit (CU), and radio unit (RU). Interested participants can find out more about the competition at

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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