DOD, Commerce announce 'open 5G' challenge

By Justin Doubleday / January 11, 2021 at 1:36 PM

The Defense and Commerce departments are asking for the public's suggestions on how to execute a new, fifth-generation wireless technology competition aimed at developing open 5G networks.

In a "notice of inquiry" released today, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced the "creation of a 5G Challenge that would accelerate the development of the open 5G stack ecosystem in support of Department of Defense missions."

"A key innovation in 5G that is becoming more pervasive in the larger 5G ecosystem is the trend toward 'open 5G' architectures that emphasize open interfaces in the network stack," the notice states.

NTIA is seeking feedback on the proposed challenge through Feb. 10.

"These comments will help NTIA and the U.S. Government identify and mitigate the challenges in creating and executing a competition," the notice states. "They will also help NTIA leverage its engineering expertise to construct a Challenge that maximizes the benefit to both the open 5G stack market and the DOD on an accelerated schedule."

In a statement released alongside the announcement, acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Kratsios said 5G technologies are "foundational" to both national security and the U.S. economy.

"Open 5G systems would greatly bolster the Department's ability to deliver on its missions, and we look forward to exploring new and innovative opportunities for their development," Kratsios said.

The Pentagon has already initiated an ambitious 5G experimentation program at various military bases. DOD awarded $600 million in initial contracts under that program in October.