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Dish partners with Samsung to roll out stand-alone 5G network

Dish is taking the next big step in rolling out its stand-alone 5G network in a new partnership where Samsung will provide the underlying technology.

In a new multi-year agreement, Samsung’s 5G Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) technology will power the Dish wireless Smart 5G network. This will help Dish accelerate the rollout of 5G to its customers and do so more affordably using off-the-shelf hardware.

Worker looking up at 5G tower against a cloudy sky.
Dish Wireless

Although the O-RAN-compliant virtualized network solutions will initially be used for Dish’s 5G commercial services, the wireless provider plans to extend this to its retail wireless customers through Boost Mobile. Dish has already announced the Celero5G as a budget launch phone for its new 5G network and plans to put more leading-edge 5G devices into customers’ hands.

Samsung isn’t just providing the back-end components. Dish is currently testing its 5G network using the Samsung Galaxy S22 and plans to continue using that and other Samsung phones as a “reference platform” as it deploys its new Smart 5G network.

“Together, we’ll create solutions to bring Dish Wireless’ smart network to life for retail and enterprise customers,” said Stephen Bye, Dish’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer, “enhancing their productivity, enriching their connection to people and smart technology, improving their business operations and giving our customers control over their 5G services.”

Samsung’s 5G Solutions

Most folks are already quite familiar with the Samsung Galaxy lineup of smartphones. However, many don’t realize that Samsung is also a mainstream player in the 5G infrastructure business, providing back-end radio access network (RAN) hardware and software components to mobile network operators around the world.

Samsung has invested heavily in Open RAN hardware and virtual RAN (vRAN) software solutions. The company’s solutions boast some of the fastest 5G speeds — up to 2.25Gbps to a single user device over C-band — and it’s the first major network vendor building commercial vRAN deployments with large Tier One network operators around the world.

The key advantage of emerging O-RAN and vRAN technology is that mobile network operators such as Dish can quickly roll out new 5G deployments using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers, which are much more cost-effective than traditional hardware-based equipment. Further, a single server can host multiple vRAN software modules that would have previously required independent physical hardware units.

Illustration of the components of a virtualized radio access network.

Open interfaces also mean that Dish won’t be locked into a single vendor’s platform. As part of the O-RAN Alliance, Samsung’s solutions allow radio network components to mix and match from multiple O-RAN-compliant vendors. This lowers deployment costs and increases flexibility since Dish will be able to choose from a wider variety of hardware solutions to build the best network possible.

“Samsung is excited to join this 5G journey with DISH, a pioneer in bringing new experiences to households and businesses around the country, leveraging openness and virtualization that sit at the heart of network evolution,” said Mark Louison, executive vice president and head of the Networks Business, Samsung Electronics America. “Our advanced 5G vRAN and radio solutions bring telco-grade quality and cloud-based agility together, building on these benefits to enable more customers to experience the full value of commercial 5G Open RAN.”

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