Dish, Etisalat advance Open RAN plans

  • Dish doubles down on network security
  • Adds security vendors to its tech partner roster – Allot, Nokia and Palo Alto get the call
  • Etisalat preps Open RAN network rollout in Afghanistan with Parallel Wireless, Intel and Supermicro

Two of the operators at the forefront of the expanding charge towards Open RAN tests, trials and deployments have advanced their disaggregated radio access network strategies during the past few days.

Dish Network, which is building an Open RAN-based greenfield 5G network in the US, has issued a white paper that describes how its infrastructure will be secure in ways “not possible with traditional networks.” 

It says the paper explains how Dish is “prioritizing network, system and end-user security from the outset of network deployment, the importance of a trusted software supply chain and how DISH's 5G network security is more agile and scalable than traditional networks. In addition, the paper highlights how DISH's strategic security partners contribute to the security model of DISH's cloud-native, 5G O-RAN.”

In the paper itself it suggests traditional networks are “built upon vertically integrated proprietary systems, which are based on closed-network security models.” It adds: “A key tenet of the DISH 5G security framework is a zero-trust model. Components of the company’s 5G security design include real-time threat identification and correlation, 5G network slice-based security support with a software chain of trust and end-user controllability. These components improve DISH 5G’s threat detectability and the capability to automatically serve, act and adapt.” (You can see the full white paper here.)

The security of Open RAN networks was, of course, a topic of discussion last year after Ericsson questioned whether disaggregated, multi-vendor networks with open APIs would invite security breaches. (See Ericsson crashes Open RAN party with security scare.)

That position was countered by the CTOs at Rakuten Mobile and Telefónica, Tareq Amin and Enrique Blanco, who both noted that open architectures provide the kind of visibility into the network, and flexibility to adapt in the face of security threats, that is not possible with networks based on more traditional systems. (See Telco CTOs hit back at Ericsson’s Open RAN security scare.)

To coincide with the release of the white paper, Dish announced security technology partnerships with three companies: Palo Alto Networks, Allot and Nokia. You can find out the roles they are playing in these announcements:

Dish, which is currently building out its network and set to start offering 5G services during the second half of 2021, is committed to covering 70% of the US population by June 2023 with its standalone 5G network. 

Etisalat takes its next step

Middle East operator Etisalat has followed its recent collaboration with Rakuten Mobile by announcing plans to deploy an Open RAN network in Afghanistan in partnership with Parallel Wireless, Intel and Supermicro. 

"The combination of Open RAN, virtualization, and automation will enable Etisalat to meet the needs of our customers most cost-effectively in Central Asia,” noted Hatem Bamatraf, Chief Technology Officer-International, at the Etisalat Group. “Being able to use an Open RAN system will help us not only extend our initial investment, but also bring new services much faster. Parallel Wireless together with Intel and Supermicro have become true strategic partners and key enablers in undertaking this Open RAN implementation."

Key to this relationship appears to the collaboration of the various vendors to provide a combination of hardware and software elements that are already proven to work together. “While there is significant innovation happening, there are considerable gaps and challenges that make it difficult to deploy end-to-end Open RAN solutions, putting a heavy burden back on operators,” noted Parallel Wireless Director of Sales, Amrit Heer. “We believe it is the ideal time to align and collaborate to solve the key challenges to deliver innovative RAN solutions that are ready for commercial deployment. Implementing our world's leading O-RAN compliant software platform will allow Etisalat to enable new services to be deployed quickly, seamlessly, and more reliably,” he added in this announcement

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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