US 5G newcomer Dish Network tapped Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host its RAN and core networks, the first time an operator in the nation will run its customer-facing operations on public cloud-based infrastructure.

Since Dish Network is building its open RAN 5G network from scratch, it has the option to choose a 100 per cent cloud-based network. The expected advantages are lower cost, faster scalability and the ability to offer enterprise customers more value.

Dish Network claims the cloud architecture can offer its enterprise customers value in two ways.

First, it will be able to quickly reallocate bandwidth and compute power to create network slices, giving enterprises dedicated 5G speed and security.

Second, companies will be able to use applications developed for 5G networks using the AWS application developer interfaces. Dave Brown, VP at AWS unit Amazon EC2, explained developers will be able to use the same programming tools to interact with the 5G network that they use for the compute infrastructure.

Las Vegas
AWS is in the process of deploying its compute, storage and database services in dedicated sites in several large US cities, and stated it can deploy a scaled-down version at enterprise sites.

Dish Network will employ both capabilities. It plans to begin offering 5G services in Las Vegas, one of the cities in which AWS intends to deploy infrastructure.

AWS calls its onsite cloud deployments AWS Outposts and is currently working with VMWare to create a software-defined data centre to run this.

VMWare is one of the companies working on Dish Network’s open RAN architecture.

Although Dish Network is making a much deeper commitment to AWS than any other US operator, it is not alone.

AWS and Verizon have integrated Verizon’s 5G multi-access edge compute platform with AWS Outposts; AT&T announced a partnership with AWS in 2017, but since moved closer to Microsoft; and T-Mobile US has been an AWS customer in the past.

Dish Network’s move is a major fillip for the public cloud sector.

One of the sector’s biggest proponents, TelcoDR founder Danielle Royston, was typically upbeat on Dish Network’s news, issuing a series of tweets on the move.

Dish Network has until June 2023 to build a 5G network covering 70 per cent of the US population to fulfil a commitment made involving T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger.

The deal with AWS is Dish Network’s biggest contract to date, adding to arrangements with companies including Mavenir, Altiostar, Nokia, Netcracker and Amdocs.