The News: DISH Network Corporation selected IBM to help automate what the company is touting as the United States’ first greenfield cloud-native 5G network. DISH seeks to design a new smart network that is agile, scalable, and fully virtualized, benefitting enterprise customers across a multitude of industry verticals. DISH will leverage IBM’s AI-powered automation and network orchestration software and services to bring broad 5G network orchestration to DISH’s business and operations platforms. Intent-driven orchestration, a software-powered automation process, and artificial intelligence (AI) will be utilized to drive the operations of DISH’s cloud-native 5G network architecture. Read the IBM press release .
DISH Goes with IBM AI-Powered Assets to Advance Cloud-Native 5G Network Build
Analyst Take: DISH is collaborating with IBM Global Services to use IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation software with DISH’s cloud-native 5G network architecture. Through IBM’s solution, DISH aims to use intent-based orchestration capabilities to efficiently synthesize hardware and software resources that enable the network slicing that is key to the creation and delivery of new services such as use case specific networks.
IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation software is designed to continuously learn, provide insights, and use financial impact analysis to prioritize and manage network function and issue resolution. The ability to simultaneously administer the lifecycle, optimize the performance, and customer-specific requirements of each slice on the network can be a key differentiator for DISH as it seeks to power innovation benefitting the enterprise market segment.
DISH also plans to use advanced network slicing to offer new use cases and vertical industry opportunities that are customized to each business and customers who uses the private hybrid 5G network. In sum, network slices can be managed by customers to set service levels for each device appropriate to their use of the network. As a result, automation of smart factory processes and power systems can be augmented by ultra-low latency while an HD surveillance camera can be allocated high bandwidth.
I see DISH’s selection of IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation as further demonstrating the increasingly critical role that AI is playing in operator build of 5G networks. For example, AI is vital for the automation and self-healing features of 5G operations and business processes. Orange, for example, is assigning AI the central role in its experimental 5G network that is serving as the blueprint for the next-generation of more efficient and agile networks.
IBM Joins DISH’s Extensive 5G Roster
IBM is the latest invitee to DISH’s already extensive roster of vendors selected to help build its nationwide virtualized, O-RAN 5G broadband network. Prior to IBM’s inclusion, the DISH supplier roster included 12 tower companies (e.g., American Tower, Crown Castle, SBA Communications), six cloud native software vendors (i.e., Mavenir, VMware, Digital Bank, Hansen, Blue Planet, MATRIXX), two OEM chipset suppliers (i.e., Qualcomm, Intel), four fiber network partners for both fronthaul and backhaul applications (i.e., Everstream, Segra, Zayo, Uniti), two base station suppliers (i.e., Fujitsu, MTI), one O-RAN Core vendor (Nokia), one vRAN vendor (Altiostar/Rakuten), network security (i.e., Palo Alto Networks), and microwave radio (i.e., Aviant).
Of note, Rakuten acquired Altiostar for $1 billion in August 2021 and swiftly integrated the Altiostar Open RAN assets into its new Rakuten Symphony business organization that spearheads ecosystem-wide adoption of cloud-native open RAN infrastructure and services, including the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) by operators, enterprises, and government organizations. I see Rakuten as a pioneer in using containers and microservices in running all 5G SA (standalone) functions from the RAN to the core network as cloud-native network functions that can have direct bearing on DISH’s own cloud-native 5G architecture and vision.
RCP is already used by over 20 operators including Telefonica, Etisalat, stc, Ligado, and 1&1 (Germany-based operator building Europe’s first fully virtualized mobile network based on Open RAN technology). As such, I believe DISH can also benefit from Rakuten’s unique perspective in building and scaling a breakthrough greenfield cloud-native 5G network.
Key Takeaways on DISH’s Selection of IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation
DISH’s selection of the IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation injects the intent-based orchestration critical to advancing its multi-vendor cloud-native 5G network build including automation of operations and business processes. As a result, I anticipate IBM to play a higher profile role in DISH’s deployment of 5G services, especially since both AI-powered automation and intent-based orchestration are essential to administering DISH’s open 5G network evolution, especially across 5G SA implementations, and assuring that all the virtualized and cloud native components perform cohesively and optimally. Upon DISH’s first successful 5G service deployment, IBM will have attained an invaluable account reference to further boost CSP consideration and adoption of its IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation solution.
Disclosure: Futurum Research is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.