To address the growing need for testing and evaluation of open and interoperable, standards-based 5G radio access networks, NTIA intends to fund Testing Methods R&D projects that address needs not currently met by industry-accepted tests and best practices. These projects fall into two categories:
- Develop new and emerging performance indicators and/or
- Develop enhanced methods for existing test criteria that make material improvements on current methods needed to assess interoperability, performance, and/or security on these networks and their component parts.
Grants within this specific research focus area will target R&D of new and enhanced testing methods and assessment criteria that are capable of being repeated in a variety of environments (e.g., lab, field, etc.) and different stages of product development. Flexibility of the testing methods while maintaining suitable accuracy is a priority. The following are two illustrative but non-exclusive examples of test flexibility maintaining accuracy:
- Accurately measuring energy consumption of RAN equipment for dis-similar power supply methods (e.g., 120/240V AC mains power, -48V DC power, etc.) such that energy consumption can be compared between systems.
- Including provisions for measuring performance of radios that support direct-cabled testing and radios that only have integrated antennas, such that radio RF performance can be accurately compared between the two to the maximum extent practical.
More generally, examples of Testing Methods R&D include, but are not limited to:
- Developing new and emerging performance indicators such as for energy and spectrum efficiency of 5G radio access networks;
- Developing enhanced methods for existing 5G radio access network test criteria, where the goal is to make material improvement on current methods;
- Developing new means of cybersecurity testing in 5G radio access networks;
- Developing innovative testing solutions not contemplated by the three examples above.
- An example of such a solution might be a virtualized testing environment that allows open and interoperable, standards-based 5G RAN products to be tested individually or in a stack at a more iterative pace than is permitted by “in real life” testing events.