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  2. 2023 5G Challenge
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The 2023 5G Challenge Event

The 2023 5G Challenge was the second of two 5G Challenge competitions. In the 2022 event, NTIA/ITS offered a $3,000,000 prize purse to contestants who successfully integrated hardware and/or software solutions for one or more of these 5G network subsystems:

  • Central Unit (CU)
  • Distributed Unit (DU)
  • Radio Unit (RU)

In the 2023 5G Challenge, NTIA/ITS awarded a total prize purse of $7,000,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to high-performing 5G subsystems that showcased multi-vendor interoperability across RUs and combined CUs and DUs (CU+DU).

The 2023 5G Challenge facilitated contestant testing through three stages of integration, each building on the previous stage:

  • Wrap-around emulation testing (on each contestant subsystem individually)
  • End-to-end (E2E) integration testing, to establish and test an E2E session (CU+DU and RU)
  • Mobility testing between two E2E sessions

Contest Prizes

Mobility Price cup
Mobility Prize winners


NTIA/ITS awarded the mobility prize to the top-performing group in Stage Four (i.e., the highest mobility test score).

A $3,000,000 purse was divided equally among the contestants involved.

Mobility graphic

Best Software Bill of Materials (SBOM)

Awarded to the two contestants with the highest rated SBOM and Vulnerability Exploitability eXchange (VEX). Each Best SBOM Prize consisted of $100,000 and the Security Testing Prize.

  • Fujitsu Network Communications, Inc. and partner AT&T
  • JMA Wireless
Best Sofware Bill of Material badges for Fujitsu-AT&T and JMA Wireless

Best Collaborator

Awarded to the contestant that receives the highest collaboration score. The host lab assessed each contestantʼs overall responsiveness during testing. Contestants submitted peer ratings. Lions received the highest score to win Best Collaborator. The Best Collaborator Prize consisted of $20,000 and the Security Testing Prize.

Best Collaborator Badge with Lions Logo


Security Testing Prize Badge

Security Testing Prize

Each winner of this in-kind prize received two weeks of security testing performed by the 2023 5G Challenge host lab.

In Stage Three, NTIA/ITS awarded a $2,000,000 Multi-vendor E2E Integration prize purse to the two top-performing CU+DU and RU contestant pairings. The first and second prizes were awarded equally to both CU+DU and RU contestants. Only cold pairings selected by NTIA/ITS qualified. Details on how each subsystem was tested and scored can be found in the Official Rules on the Resources page.

Gold cup

First Prize

Silver cup

Second Prize


1st Price winner badges
2nd price winners


Lab Time Prize

The 1st Prize CU+DU and RU winners received the in-kind prize of three weeks of host lab testing, with a similar level of support from the 2023 5G Challenge host lab as during the contest.

Contest Structure

The 2023 5G Challenge accepted the following subsystems:

Combined Central Unit (CU) and Distributed Unit (DU), abbreviated CU+DU. The CU and DU could be from the same or different vendors. Contestants having only a CU or only a DU had to partner with another contestant to enter a combined CU+DU.

Radio Unit (RU). The RU had to have the ability to operate with cabled air interface emulation supporting up to 4x4 MIMO (FR1 only).

Contestants were encouraged to submit multiple subsystems of a single type, such as two RUs with different technical specifications.

Figure with subsystems and interfaces under test

The 2023 5G Challenge evaluated the following interfaces:

3GPP interface NG (N2/N3) and NAS (N1). RAN interface to 5G core. N1 is a transparent interface between the user equipment (UE) and the 5G core. NG control plane is also known as N2. NG user plane is also known as N3.

O-RAN ALLIANCE interface Open Fronthaul (DU to RU). Includes Control, User, Synchronization (CUS) Plane and Management Plane protocols. Based on lower layer functional split “7-2x” and leverages eCPRI protocols.

3GPP Interface Xn. Call Handover was tested via this interface as well as the N2 interface.

3GPP Interface Uu. Logical interface between RU and UE.

timeline phase three

As the host lab, CableLabs will provided two separate 5G test and emulation systems.

Each contestant subsystem was assigned to one of these two systems. Contestant subsystems that passed the emulated testing were integrated with other contestantsʼ subsystems along with the host labʼs baseline system consisting of a 5G SA core and UE emulator. “Plug-and-play” performance was evaluated using a standard corpus of performance metrics. For more information on the host labʼs 5G systems, see the Host Lab Configuration document on the Resources page.

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