Dell to serve Dish at the edge

Nick Wood
By Nick Wood

Jun 18, 2021

  • US mobile operator to deploy Dell EMC PowerEdge servers at base stations
  • Collaboration on machine learning will help Dish predict network anomalies
  • Deal also covers co-development of various solutions for Open RAN, automation etc.

DISH Network has struck a wide-ranging partnership with Dell that the US mobile operator said completes its cloud-based networking strategy.

The agreement covers hardware, software, and co-development in several areas, not least of which are Open RAN and multi-access edge computing (MEC) solutions for enterprises and SMEs. It comes less than two months after DISH announced its groundbreaking deal to deploy its cloud-based 5G network on Amazon Web Services (AWS). (See What's up with… Dish & AWS, Verizon, Infovista + Empirix.)

"By collaborating with Dell Technologies, we will have the hardware and software infrastructure needed to harness the power and potential of 5G," said DISH's chief network officer Marc Rouanne, in a statement issued late on Thursday. "Dell's open ecosystem approach will help us scale our RAN network with agility, speed and consistency, bringing about new business opportunities for both enterprise customers and consumers, completing our cloud strategy."

DISH is betting on this new way of networking to help it offer something different in a market with deeply-entrenched competition. It is an approach similar to the one taken by Rakuten Mobile in Japan, which is also pinning its hopes Open RAN and cloud-native networking to help it snatch market share from old timers NTT DOCOMO, KDDI and Softbank.

Under this week's deal with Dell, DISH will deploy Dell's EMC PowerEdge servers at mobile towers and centralised RAN locations, to support edge-based, data-intensive workloads. DISH will also make use of Dell's Apex Flex on Demand storage-as-a-service offering, to ensure that it only pays for what it uses.

The companies have also agreed to work together to develop private 5G network solutions, software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN), and multi-access edge cloud platforms. They are also working together on a go-to-market strategy pitched at different verticals to entice potential business customers.

They have even pledged to produce a range of Dell laptops equipped with a DISH 5G connection, eSIM provisioning and device management, to make it easier for end users to get up and running on the operator's network.

There is also an R&D side to the partnership that will see DISH and Dell co-develop technology for Open RAN, smart network interface cards (SmartNICs), micro-edge colocation, and automation. The two will also implement machine learning with the aim of enabling DISH to predict anomalies that may affect network performance.

"DISH is breaking new ground by building a cloud-native 5G network designed for a future where edge computing and new 5G use cases collide in ways we haven't thought of yet," said Dennis Hoffman, senior vice president and general manager, Dell Technologies Telecom Systems Business. "We will put our decades of digital transformation experience to work to help simplify and automate the rapid deployment of DISH's 5G RAN and edge network."

DISH plans to launch its 5G network in Las Vegas in the third quarter. Its licence obligations stipulate it must cover 20 percent of the US population by next June, reaching 70 percent in June 2023.

With that in mind, it appears that DISH has begun allowing potential customers to register their interest. First reported by Axios on Tuesday, a Website called Project Gene5is has appeared, promising to "democratise wireless access and create the 5G network of the future". Anyone interested can sign up for updates, and while there is no mention of DISH on the website, a quick peruse of the privacy policy reveals it is indeed DISH that is gathering the information.

With a name like Project Gene5is, and Vegas as its first city, Phil Collins is the obvious choice for the launch party. However, he's already booked to play the T-Mobile arena in Vegas in October, so DISH might have to settle for Mike Rutherford...

- Nick Wood, reporting for TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

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