The Core

Dish's 5G core takes another step forward

Dish Network continues to slowly but surely move toward the commercial launch of its long-awaited 5G service. That initial launch – scheduled to happen sometime in the third quarter in Las Vegas – would represent somewhat of a culmination of more than a decade of work by Dish in collecting spectrum licenses for a wireless network.

As Dish moves toward its goal, the company continues to assemble the vendors that will make that launch happen. The latest: The company confirmed it will work with Nokia and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to run its standalone (SA) 5G network in a public cloud.

The move is noteworthy considering the vast majority of 5G wireless network operators today operate non standalone (NSA) 5G networks running in private clouds.

"Running the Nokia 5G SA core on AWS will optimize our network operations to launch new software and services rapidly and efficiently, enabling the integration of countless innovative use cases for customers. This collaboration is an important step forward on our mission to deploy the United States' first cloud-native, open RAN-based 5G network," Marc Rouanne, Dish's chief network officer, said in a release.

Dish specifically said Nokia is providing voice core, cloud packet core, subscriber data management, device management and security services in the core. The companies promised the offering would support "near zero-touch automation" and the ability to offer service level agreements to customers.

The latest news Monday between Dish and Nokia builds on Dish's previous announcements around its 5G network, including in its core network operations. The company announced late last year that it would use Nokia's core network software for its planned 5G network – a noteworthy addition to its vendor list considering the "core" generally operates as the brain of a network that, for Dish, is intended to stretch across 70% of the US population within the next two years.

In subsequent announcements, Dish said it would run Nokia's core software on Dell Technologies' servers with Intel silicon in the AWS public cloud.

Dish joins T-Mobile in launching the standalone version of 5G and Telenet, Telefonica and others in moving its network operations into the public cloud. But Dish is being closely watched as it's one of the world's few large greenfield network operators in the world that has been loudly embracing open RAN technology coupled with a virtualized network running completely in the public cloud.

Dish's travels through greenfield network operations, 5G and open RAN follow in the footsteps of Japan's Rakuten, which already counts several million customers on its own mobile network. Rakuten, for its part, very publicly switched its core network vendor from Cisco in 4G to NEC in 5G.

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

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