Dish Network announced a partnership with Intel to integrate Intel 5G infrastructure technology into Dish’s buildout of its virtualized, open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) 5G network.
Specifically, Dish said it has selected the Intel Xeon Scalable Processor, the Intel Ethernet 800 Series network adapter, the Intel vRAN Dedicated Acclerator ACC100 and Intel’s FlexRAN software reference architecture.
It’s the latest vendor to be announced in Dish’s run-up to launch the first wireless network built from scratch using a virtualized architecture and O-RAN elements. While incumbent operators AT&T and Verizon are moving aggressively to virtualize their networks, Dish will be the first to do so out of the gate.
Other vendors include Nokia for the 5G standalone (SA) core, which is cloud-native and based on containers. VMware was chosen for its telco cloud platform; 5G network functions from different software vendors will run on top of the VMware telco cloud, including software from Mavenir and Altiostar.
“Intel has been a trusted advisor throughout the design of our O-RAN network, working in concert with our software vendors Mavenir, Altiostar, and many OEM hardware providers,” said Marc Rouanne, executive vice president and chief network officer at Dish, in a statement. “We have tested several commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) designs from a large number of server vendors using Intel’s O-RAN compliant FlexRAN architecture and are pleased by the maturity and power of the solutions, together with the cost benefits of COTS solutions."
He added that Dish is using the power of the VMware abstraction solution and the ubiquity of Intel-based servers to load and mix different types of cloud-native workloads like distributed unit (DU), centralized unit (CU), virtual routers, mobile edge computing applications, and 5G core containerized network functions.
“Fully-virtualized, cloud-native networks like the one Dish is building bring the same server economics that transformed the data center,” said Dan Rodriguez, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of the Network Platforms Group, in a statement. “We are excited to partner with Dish to lay the foundation for a truly agile network and have already begun working with our OEM partners who have designed FlexRAN-based servers to enable a variety of new innovative use cases and services.”
Dish is a member of the O-RAN Alliance, an operator-led initiative to foster the RAN industry into one that’s fully interoperable, virtualized and based on open technologies, in part so that operators aren't subject to vendor lock-in. Last month, the O-RAN Alliance conducted its second worldwide plugfest and proof of concept to demonstrate the functionality as well as the multi-vendor interoperability of O-RAN based network equipment.