DOD expanding 5G testing, partnerships with new software competition

A new competition the DOD is working on will broaden its work in partnering with the private sector to make new 5G technologies.
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The Department of Defense has been fast at work testing different types of 5G technology on its bases and now wants help to design competitions for building out software and endpoints that will use the fifth-generation wireless telecommunications capabilities.

The forthcoming competition tasks participants to build open “5G protocol stack software,” a core component for using the physical network hardware already being tested by the DOD. It will be run in partnership with the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), taking into account recent comments from industry on how best to run the competition.

While yet to launch, the competition is a step in expanding the DOD’s work testing 5G with private sector companies.

The DOD also recently unveiled its 5G implementation plan, a document that outlines how it will turn its strategy for the emerging technology into reality. The plan relies on the open software the department is calling for in its competition. DOD said it will also soon put out a request for the second tranche of 5G “testbed” sites, where commercial companies partner with military services on their bases to test their networks.


“With these testbeds, the Department of Defense is at the forefront of cutting-edge 5G research that will strengthen America’s warfighting capabilities and accelerate advancements in commercial 5G technologies,” Michael Kratsios, DOD acting head of research and engineering, said in a release.

Through these partnerships, the DOD benefits by experimenting with the emerging technology and jointly developing stronger networks to modernize base operations and military operations.

Much of the nation’s strategy to advance U.S.-made 5G tech is implicitly to counter China’s leapfrogging innovations in the telecommunications industry. The U.S. has labeled Chinese-backed companies like Huawei a national security risk.

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