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Mavenir, Rakuten among the Open RAN vendors chosen for 5G Challenge

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Mavenir, Rakuten, Radisys and Capgemini are among half a dozen Open RAN vendors who have been chosen as contestants in a federal 5G Challenge that focuses on supporting development and interoperability of 5G Open RAN systems.

The challenge is being hosted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Institute for Telecommunications Sciences (NTIA’s ITS), in coordination with the Department of Defense. CableLabs serves as the host lab for participants. Contestants were chosen based on white paper submissions and now must go through two stages of emulated integration and network integration testing.

This part of the challenge is actually a preliminary challenge event focused on 5G RAN subsystem interoperability, meant to ultimately foster actual plug-and-play network capabilities and a broader ecosystem of vendors. Details for a subsequent 5G Challenge Final Event won’t be released until 2023.

DoD’s challenges typically run multiple years and involve financial prizes. In the first year of the 5G Challenge, contestants can win up to $3 million for their 5G Open RAN subsystems, including Central Units (CUs), Distributed Units (DUs) and Radio Units (RUs).

According to NTIA, Capgemini Engineering, Mavenir, Rakuten and Signal System Management will submit CUs; Radisys, Rakuten and Signal System Management will submit DUs; and Mavenir and Fujitsu Network Communications will submit RUs. Submissions must be compliant with 3GPP Release 15 and Open RAN Alliance specifications.

CableLabs is providing an emulated Viavi Solutions 5G test system, two Standalone 5G network cores and two virtualized Radio Access Networks, with the core able to support up to 10,000 subscribers and connections. The lab can also emulate up to 128 end user devices and 128 connections across a 10 Gb/s interface, NTIA said.

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