DISH adds Nokia’s standalone core to its 5G menu

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Sep 14, 2020

  • DISH is building a greenfield 5G network
  • Nokia lands deal to supply its 5G standalone core tech
  • Some welcome news for vendor in the US market

DISH, which is building a mobile network from scratch in the US, has added Nokia to its growing menu of 5G suppliers, with the Finnish vendor’s Software division snagging a deal to supply its standalone (SA) core system and associated applications and professional services.

Following tests of the vendor’s software and integration capabilities in multiple cloud environments, Nokia is to supply DISH with a suite of “cloud native standalone core software products” including “subscriber data management, device management, packet core, voice and data core” functions.

Notably, the vendor is boasting “near zero-touch automation” attributes for its standalone 5G core system: The introduction of automated processes is regarded as vital if service providers are to gain the full benefits of 5G and its associated distributed cloud platform functionality. 

Nokia will also provide integration services and software that will enable access to core platform functionality over 4G, 5G standalone and voice-over-WiFi connections. 

DISH has committed to covering 70% of the US population by June 2023 with its Open RAN-based standalone 5G network. (And, of course, Open RAN is just about the hottest topic in the telecoms market right now… see Why Open RAN is just too hot to ignore.)

Marc Rouanne, Chief Network Officer at DISH (and formerly the President of Mobile Networks at Nokia), highlighted the service capabilities that Nokia’s standalone core technology will enable. “Nokia’s new release is cloud-native, standalone and ready for full automation, providing DISH the software capabilities required to deliver thousands of network slices with low latency and SLA [service level agreement] on demand,” he noted in a statement included in Nokia’s press release.

The deal is a feather in the cap of Bhaskar Gorti, President of Nokia Software, who is pushing a strong ‘cloud native’ message to the market with various developments based on his division’s Common Software Foundation. (See Can Nokia build on its software foundation?)

As with Rakuten Mobile, which has built a 4G/5G architecture from scratch in Japan, DISH and its technology partners will come under a lot of scrutiny from a communications industry (and others) keen to see whether a cloud-oriented, Open RAN network can match the performance of traditional cellular networks and deliver the flexibility, agility and economies that have been touted as the benefits of such an architecture. 

Key to the success of such a rollout will the multi-vendor interoperability: Nokia’s software will need to interact seamlessly with the software from DISH’s existing partners, which include BSS specialist MATRIXX SoftwareVMware (telco cloud platform), and Altiostar and Mavenir for virtual RAN software. Fujitsu has been selected for its radio units.

The announcement of the high-profile deal will be welcomed by Nokia’s team in North America, which is still feeling the aftershock of being sidelined in Verizon’s 5G radio access network rollout plans, with Samsung emerging as the key second supplier of 5G RAN gear to the giant US telco alongside Ericsson. (See Samsung lands $6.6 billion 5G deal at Verizon.)

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.