open RAN

Dish, Samsung kick off 5G deployment

Dish Network said it has begun installing some of the 24,000 5G radios that are part of Samsung's initial shipment to the operator.

The companies first announced their partnership early last year. Samsung is supplying its virtualized distributed unit (DU), virtualized centralized unit (CU) and radios that support Dish's various spectrum bands. "Samsung also built new dual-band and tri-band open RAN-compliant radios specific to this deployment," the companies said in a release Wednesday.

In their release, company officials made sure to tout the open RAN elements of their deployment. "Samsung is a key player in the Dish Wireless open RAN ecosystem, created in collaboration with additional open RAN leaders like Dell, VMware, AWS and others," Marc Rouanne, Dish's chief network officer and the architect of the company's cloud-native, open RAN network design, said in a statement. "Samsung's 5G vRAN [virtualized radio access network] solutions and our shared innovation process allow Dish Wireless to continue the Dish 5G multi-vendor, open and interoperable cloud-native network buildout, as we progress to covering 70% of the US population."

Earlier this year, Dish disclosed that, as of December 31, 2022, the company had started construction on over 15,000 5G sites that, if completed, will be capable of providing broadband coverage to over 60% of the US population. The company said it's adding 1,000 sites to that total per month. Dish is under a federal mandate to cover 70% of the US population with 5G by June of this year.

(Source: Dish)
(Source: Dish)

Per recent estimates from New Street Research, Dish will eventually need to deliver 5G signals from about 35,000 cell towers to meet the government's overall network coverage requirements.

Tower demand is a 'mixed bag'

"Dish Network is rushing to meet its network deployment deadlines," wrote the financial analysts at MoffettNathanson in a recent report to investors following the release of SBA Communications' quarterly financial report. SBA – one of the biggest cell tower owners in the US – reported ongoing demand for tower space among the country's big mobile network operators.

However, according to the financial analysts at Cowen, demand for cell towers among US operators is a "mixed bag." In a note to investors following the release of SBA's earnings, the analysts argued that AT&T and Verizon are likely accelerating their 5G network buildouts, but that T-Mobile and Dish may be slowing theirs in order to conserve cash.

"I can't name a 5G application that exists today that is kind of in the got-to-have category," said SBA's outgoing CEO Jeff Stoops, when questioned about US operator demand for 5G towers and equipment. "And I think that's what the whole ecosystem of wireless is waiting on."

For its part, Dish is scheduled to release its quarterly earnings tomorrow.

As for Samsung, the company has been expanding its footprint in the US market with noteworthy agreements with the likes of Verizon and Comcast.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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