Dish Network announced plans to test Qualcomm’s recently unveiled 5G RAN chipsets for use in its forthcoming next-generation network, potentially setting the chipmaker up for a major supply deal as it aims to make inroads in the open RAN market.

A representative of the US operator told Mobile World Live it will trial each of the three open-compatible 5G RAN platforms Qualcomm announced last month, with its current and future network vendors expected to incorporate the technology into their kit if all goes well.

Qualcomm previously stated the silicon won’t begin sampling until H1 2022, but the representative said Dish Network plans to move ahead with initial standalone (SA) 5G deployments before then using Intel technology.

“Intel represents the first generation, but we are looking ahead at the second and third generation. If we decide to use Qualcomm after testing, when the launch is ready, we will be looking at both Intel and Qualcomm. Because we have an open network, there is always market share to grab at any time.”

Marc Rouanne, Dish Network EVP and chief network officer, added in a statement Qualcomm’s platforms “will enable greater flexibility in the deployment of our 5G vRAN equipment”.

Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen recently said it expects to launch SA 5G in its first major market in Q3 2021. It subsequently must meet government imposed targets for expanding its 5G coverage, serving 20 per cent of the US population by June 2022 and 70 per cent by June 2023.