May 2023 | NTIA Technical Memo TM-23-568
Margaret H. Pinson; Mark Poletti; Julie E. Kub; Jeremy Glenn; Tim Thompson; Robert Kupsh; Naser Areqat; Okmar Dharmadhikari; Annie George; T. Lauriston Hardin; Cory Johnson; Spiros Kapoulas; Sundar Sriram
Abstract: Today’s mobile wireless networks comprise many proprietary solutions with custom, closed-source software and hardware. Changes to these proprietary elements require complex and meticulous verification of the entire network. This dynamic increases costs, slows innovation, reduces competition, and makes security issues difficult to detect and fix. Our vision is to accelerate adoption of 5G open interfaces, interoperable components, and multi-vendor solutions by fostering a large, vibrant, and growing vendor community dedicated to advancing 5G interoperability towards true plug-and-play operation. This memo describes the “5G Challenge Preliminary Event: RAN Subsystem Interoperability” conducted by the U.S. in 2022. Contestants submitted Open RAN radio units (O-RU), distributed units (O-DU), and central units (O-CU). We evaluated each subsystem individually in an emulated environment. Our tight testing timeline consisted of one week of preparation and two weeks of emulated wraparound testing. We then integrated subsystems from multiple vendors to create an end-to-end network. In true plug-and-play fashion, contestants approached network integration with no prior experience interoperating with their fellow contestants’ subsystems. The 5G Challenge provided a rigorous five-week schedule for end-to-end integration and testing. Contestants worked through diverse issues, from software options to discrepant hardware. This successful event demonstrated end-to-end data communication sessions using multiple protocols across a multi-vendor, interoperable, Open RAN architecture.
Keywords: interoperability; open interfaces; 5G; open RAN; network testing; Software Bill of Materials (SBOM)
For technical information concerning this report, contact:
Margaret H. Pinson
Institute for Telecommunication Sciences
Disclaimer: Certain commercial equipment, components, and software may be identified in this report to specify adequately the technical aspects of the reported results. In no case does such identification imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, nor does it imply that the equipment or software identified is necessarily the best available for the particular application or uses.