Dish Network chose Nokia to supply cloud-native standalone (SA) core software for its forthcoming 5G network, turning to a traditional vendor to handle a key part of its network despite an earlier focus on selecting smaller open RAN players.

Nokia will provide packet, voice and data core; device and subscriber data management; and integration services. The deal covers additional products to enable 4G, SA 5G and voice-over-Wi-Fi access to core network functions.

While it could have Nokia provide its full 5G core, a Dish Network representative told Mobile World Live the option to make deals with other vendors remains open.

Dish Network now has all the basic components in place to launch a network, but is still pursuing “advanced orchestration, slicing at scale and full automation” capabilities, along with security and other add-ons, the representative explained.

The contract is Dish Network’s first with one of the major three vendors: it awarded earlier deals to Matrixx Software, VMware, Mavenir, Altiostar and Fujitsu.

Nokia is a strong open RAN advocate, with previous experience working with VMware on software interoperability likely working in its favour.

The operator’s chief network officer Marc Rouanne stated Nokia’s technology will allow it to “deliver thousands of network slices with low latency and SLA on demand”.