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Our Journey to Winning the NTIA 5G Challenge

Ashish Yadav
Oct 16, 2023

The 5G Challenge aimed to accelerate the adoption of open, interoperable wireless network equipment to support vendor diversity, supply chain resiliency and national security.

From Morse Code to the NTIA

When Guglielmo Marconi sent a Morse Code signal using radio waves to a distance of 3.3 kilometers in 1895, he may not have fully understood its impact on communication in the years to come. His actions sparked a revolution that continues to transform how people communicate.

83 years later, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) was created. It has played a crucial role in shaping the nation’s telecommunications policies and promoting innovation and growth in the technology field.

As part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the NTIA is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policymaking focus primarily on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, advancing public safety communications, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

NTIA office bearers worked tirelessly to fight the digital divide and bring digital equity. In 1994, it sponsored the first virtual government hearing over the Internet. Schools and public libraries nationwide offered public access points for Americans who otherwise would not have access to view the hearing. It was undoubtedly a significant shift in thinking and how people connected.

In 1995, the principles of a book co-written by former US Vice President Al Gore, ‘The Global Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Cooperation’ helped transform the Internet into a shared international resource throughout the rest of the 1990s. As part of this, the digitization of information on the website of the NTIA and other U.S. agencies made government more accessible to everyday Americans.

The 2022 5G Challenge

In 2022, NTIA launched a 2-year ‘5G Challenge’ program to foster a vibrant 5G O-RAN vendor community. The 5G Challenge, hosted by the US Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), aimed to accelerate the adoption of open, interoperable wireless network equipment to support vendor diversity, supply chain resiliency, and national security.

In its first year (2022), NTIA/ITS required the contestants to successfully integrate hardware and/or software solutions for one or more 5G network subsystems: Central Unit (CU), Distributed Unit (DU) and Radio Unit (RU).

The Capgemini team participated in the 2022 5G challenge, competing in the Central Unit category and winning all three challenge stages

Capgemini qualified for Stage One by demonstrating compliance with 3GPP and O-RAN Alliance. We were evaluated successfully on End-to-End functionality and standards conformance. We proceeded to Stage Three, successfully demonstrating wrap-around testing for Stage Two. Capgemini won Stage Three and the challenge by successfully integrating subsystems from five different vendors: user equipment (UE), Radio Unit, Distributed Unit, Central Unit, and Core.

The 2023 5G Challenge

The 2023 5G Challenge was the second of the two 5G Challenges. NTIA selected contestants with high-performing 5G subsystems that showcased multi-vendor interoperability across RUs and combined CUs and DUs (CU+DU). CableLabs hosted the challenge and provided two separate 5G test and emulation systems.

Capgemini was assigned one of the two subsystems. Contestant subsystems that passed the emulated testing were integrated with the Capgemini subsystem and the CableLabs baseline system consisting of a 5G standalone core and UE emulator. ‘Plug-and-play’ performance was evaluated using a standard corpus of performance metrics. The testing involved cold pairing with radios selected by NTIA.

The level of testing and interoperability justifies the event’s name. It really was a challenge, but one in which the Capgemini team participated with great enthusiasm. It was also a testimonial to the resilience, compliance, and quality of the Capgemini CU and DU framework. We completed all the stages for wrap-around emulation testing, End-to-end (E2E) integration testing to establish and test E2E sessions (CU+DU and RU), and Mobility testing between two E2E sessions.


The NTIA awarded Capgemini first place for Multi-Vendor E2E Integration. NTIA specifically applauded Capgemini during the ceremony for achieving a 100% pass rate on all feature and performance tests, which was the icing on the cake.

It took hard work, teamwork, personal sacrifices, motivation, hope, and triumph to reach the final hard-won victory. The Capgemini team’s incredible journey with the 5G Challenge 2023 started on March 1st, 2023, with Stage One kick-off, and culminated in September 2023, when NTIA awarded us first place.

At the closing ceremony, held in the CableLabs/Krio facilities, Boulder, Colorado, on September 21st, Capgemini was presented with two prizes: Multi-Vendor E2E Integration and Wrap-around testing for the Open RAN CU and DU.

This experience of competing in the two NTIA challenges over the past two years reinforced the foundation and importance of O-RAN, and why interoperability is so crucial for the broader ecosystem. 

It has been an incredible journey for the Capgemini team to be part of this historic initiative by NTIA. It brought the diverse vendor community together to give a meaningful push to making wireless networks interoperable. It also gave us all a common purpose to serve, by building a resilient supply chain for national security.

Meet our expert

Ashish Yadav

Head of Strategic Partnerships and Technical Product Management, Software Frameworks & Solutions, Capgemini Engineering
Ashish Yadav is a leader with more than 20 years of engineering experience, managing strategic partnerships for start-ups and Fortune 500 global technology companies. In her current role, she is responsible for global strategic partnership alliances and technical product marketing for the Software Frameworks & Solutions portfolio at Capgemini. This group is responsible for building innovative offerings in the area of 5G, networking, cloud/Edge and the automotive sector.