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DoD One Step Closer to Zero-Trust Systems for Battlefield Communications

NEWS RELEASE: October 20, 2023

The Department of Defense recently announced the winners of the 2023 5G Challenge, which took place in Louisville, Colorado and awarded $7 million in prizes.

This year’s event focused on integrating open radio access network (Open RAN) components from multiple vendors to build an inter-connected system for universal use. Open RAN is a priority for the DoD because of its potential to support the Department’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control goals for future military operations. Whereas a traditional RAN requires unified hardware and software, Open RAN gives combatant commanders more options to acquire or replace software and hardware used in military equipment and ensures more robust integration of systems and equipment on the battlefield.

The FutureG & 5G Office – part of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering – sponsored the challenge to accelerate adoption of Open RAN across the DoD. Challenges like these diversify the 5G market while accelerating innovation and competition for this secure technology. The result is reduced delivery timelines and costs for capabilities critical to the Joint Force’s communications needs.

Principal Director for FutureG & 5G, Dr. Tom Rondeau, heralded the milestones as monumental for advancement in military telecommunications. “With the accomplishments of the teams and competitors of the 5G Challenge, the adoption of Open RAN is far less in question. It’s inevitable,” he said. “For the nation’s defense and security, fully actualized Open RAN will allow the DOD the ability to illuminate and monitor networks to create zero-trust systems and provide real-time, relevant information to our commanders behind the lines and out in the field.”

After a tiebreaker, a $3 million prize was divided equally across teams from LIONS Technology, NewEdge Signal Solutions, Mavenir Systems, and Radisys Corp for successfully conducting mobility testing.

Additional prizes totaling $4 million were awarded to contestants for wraparound emulation, multi-vendor end-to-end integration, best-in-show software bill of materials, vulnerability exploitability exchange, and best-in-show collaborator.

About USD(R&E)

The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD(R&E) is the Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Defense. The USD(R&E) champions research, science, technology, engineering, and innovation to maintain the United States military’s technological advantage. Learn more at, follow us on Twitter @DoDCTO, or visit us on LinkedIn.

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