Dish says the deal will allow it to create the first standalone, cloud-based open RAN 5G network in the US

Dish Network has announced a new deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to collaborate on the construction of a 5G network. AWS will reportedly provide the infrastructure for the cloud-based network, set to be built using Open RAN standards. 

If successful, the deployment could be a major step forward Open RAN technology, as well as accelerating the shift to the public cloud for the telecoms industry.

Dish said the network will launch later this year, beginning in Las Vegas, with all of its hardware and network management resources connected through Amazon’s public cloud, including the 5G core, OSS, and BSS. The operator will also apply AWS machine learning capabilities to the network edge in an effort to improve the service by anticipating network congestion and rapidly correcting network anomalies. 

“Through this collaboration with AWS, we will operate not just as a communications services provider, but as a digital services provider harnessing the combined power of 5G connectivity and the cloud. Together, we will enable our customers to take full advantage of the potential of 5G. Our approach will revolutionise wireless connectivity by giving customers the ability to customise and scale their network experience on-demand,” said Charlie Ergen, DISH co-founder and chairman. “As a new carrier, leveraging AWS and its extensive network of partners enables us to differentiate ourselves by operating our 5G network with a high degree of automation, utilising the talent of AWS-trained developers and helping our customers bring new 5G applications to market faster than ever before.”

The shift from private to public cloud has been a major talking point for the telecoms industry for the past couple of years, with the platforms of hyperscalers like Amazon and Microsoft steadily growing in appeal. By moving to a public cloud platform, much of the pressure on in-house data centres in relieved, while the operators also gain the benefits of the platform’s scale and rapid development. In fact, for this 5G Dish contract it seems that Amazon had to compete with both Microsoft and Google.

On the other hand, using the platforms for critical network functions has unnerved many in the telecoms community, meaning the shift to public cloud is likely to be a gradual process across the industry.

Nonetheless, for some this move marks a major breakthrough, proving that the public cloud can play a far larger role in burgeoning 5G networks than previously accepted.

“The public cloud is not just a place for telecoms providers to park their applications. It’s an opportunity to completely rethink their IT and network deployment model, top to bottom. They can refactor it so that it’s easier to manage, have leaner code, and better yet, be primed to take advantage of new technologies," explained Danielle Royston, CEO & Founder of Telco DR.

“This news is the breaking of the dam of the old school thought pattern. It proves that telcos can do way more on the public cloud than many people think. It’s not just the BSS, it’s the entire network: RAN and core. If you’re still deploying on-premise, your five-year CapEx decision is doomed to be a write-off the day you make it.”


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