The Department of Defense (DoD) is collaborating with the Department of Commerce to launch their latest 5G competition, putting up to $7 million on the table to accelerate the adoption of 5G wireless solutions, the DoD announced on Feb 2.

The “2023 5G Challenge: Advanced Interoperability” competition – expected to run for two years – will help establish the deployment readiness of open radio access network (Open RAN) systems. The DoD will use the 5G Challenge to “help validate Open RAN as the architecture of the future,” the department said.

Open RAN systems are critical to future decisions about updating communications infrastructure on DoD facilities under the base modernization initiatives in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, the Pentagon said. The military services plan to provide further information for those modernization efforts this year, and plan undertake them over the next three years at hundreds of DoD facilities.

The 5G competition – run by the FutureG & 5G Office in the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences Division of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) – comes a little less than a year after a similar contest the two agencies launched.

In the 5G Challenge Preliminary Event: RAN Subsystem Interoperability which took place in April 2022, participants competed for $3 million by submitting 5G network hardware and/or software.

Participants in this challenge will compete for up to $7 million in cash and prizes. Applications are currently being accepted via, and must be submitted by 7 p.m. EST on March 1.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.