MWC 2023: 5G, Open RAN and Private Wireless


April 7, 2023

By Sidd Chenumolu, Vice President of Technology Development, DISH Wireless

Last month, industry leaders from around the globe came together for Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona; the world’s largest and most influential connectivity event. After a less than usual past few years as a result of the pandemic, GSMA’s CEO said the event was “back in full force” with over 88,000 attendees. 


MWC serves as a platform for mobility and connectivity companies to showcase their latest innovations, and this year's event was structured around the overarching theme of “Velocity” relating to the speed at which 5G is accelerating towards “value creation.” This included a deeper focus on AI, the Metaverse, sustainability, APIs, Open RAN, vRAN, private wireless networks, public cloud and power in collaboration. 


Many of these areas of focus were key topics for DISH Wireless at MWC 2023, building the DISH 5G network, from the ground up, in the cloud, and with Open RAN innovation. That’s something many in the industry previously thought was impossible, and now we are seeing the industry follow suit. DISH Wireless traveled to Barcelona to collaborate with our 5G partners, and share insights with global industry leaders and event attendees on the trending topics we are already excelling in. Learn more below!


Open RAN


DISH Wireless is an innovator in Open RAN technology and its advantages, and a member of the O-RAN Alliance, a world-wide community with the mission to re-shape the Radio Access Network (RAN) industry towards more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable mobile networks. At MWC, I discussed our Open RAN deployment experience for our 5G network during the O-RAN Alliance Ecosystem Briefing, and on the DOCOMO-hosted “On the Forefront of Open-RAN Implementation” panel. After speaking with many operators at the event, DISH is pleased with the industry’s Open RAN progress.


DISH has always believed in the power of collaboration, and that’s why we built our standalone 5G network within an Open RAN ecosystem in collaboration with partners like Samsung, Dell Technologies, VMware, Fujitsu, Mavenir and more. Our multi-vendor environment allows for best-in-class components, preventing vendor lock-in, increasing innovation and diversifying supply chains, all equating to long-term cost reduction and value creation. 


Leading up to MWC, DISH Wireless announced the commercialization of the DISH 5G cloud-based Open RAN network with the help of Samsung. DISH Wireless and Samsung revealed successful activation of commercial services, and the first live Samsung virtualized RAN (vRAN)-supported sites within the DISH 5G network. For this activation, Samsung delivered an initial shipment of 24,000 Open RAN-compliant radios that support the DISH unique spectrum bands and their vRAN software solutions.


DISH Wireless and Samsung executives meet with industry analysts at MWC.


Samsung will continue to support DISH Wireless as we optimize and expand our network to ensure reliability and consistent connectivity. In Gainesville, GA the DISH Wireless and Samsung teams also collaborated to test the DISH 5G network through drive testing procedures. 



Deployment and testing of Samsung-supported sites for the DISH 5G network is underway.



Additionally, DISH Wireless announced that Mavenir is helping to commercialize the DISH 5G network with their innovative, cloud-native 5G solutions. Mavenir is a network software provider credited with building the future of networks. Mavenir’s cloud solutions, including their fully virtualized Open RAN centralized unit (O-CU) and distributed unit (O-DU) software, support DISH to expand our 5G network and provide Voice over New Radio (VoNR) service to users across the U.S.


At MWC, I was a judge for the first-ever VMware-hosted rAppathon - an event that highlighted the innovations enabled by VMware’s RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC). RIC is a software-defined component of the Open RAN architecture that controls and optimizes RAN functions. It introduces an opportunity to monetize and optimize networks through open APIs that can be used to build innovative apps. At the rAppathon, I judged applications created using the VMware RIC and the participation was encouraging. DISH Wireless intends to use RIC to scale our Open RAN network based on the unique needs of our customers.




Judging VMware’s “rAppathon” at MWC.





On theCUBE I discussed the “Value of Automation in Telecom for 5G” with Song Toh, Senior Director of Product Management, Infrastructure Automation, Dell Technologies. In our interview, I spoke about our strategic partnership and the importance of collaboration. Highlighting it was clear early on in our network deployment that DISH wanted to work with partners who were going to be industry leaders, and with Dell, we had mutual long-term alignment. I also discussed the value of automation for DISH Wireless, as we deploy our cloud-native Open RAN 5G network with aggressive deadlines. 


Additionally, on theCUBE, Marc Rouanne, EVP and Chief Network Officer, DISH Wireless, discussed “Telemetry in Telecom” with Andy Sheahen, Global Director of Telecom Cloud, Core, and NG Ops, Dell Technologies. Marc touched on the DISH 5G network’s VoNR deployment, sharing that our greenfield network is now up and running, with Boost Mobile service currently distributed in markets across the U.S. Marc also revealed that the next step for DISH Wireless is to provide service to enterprise customers. Dell supports the DISH 5G network by providing virtual DU servers and bare metal orchestration capabilities, helping to automate our node deployment process.



Private Wireless


Through our work with IBM, we are delivering private 5G orchestration and network slicing that supports fully distributed edge deployments. At MWC, I spoke with Andrew Coward, GM of Software Defined Networking, IBM on the topic “Paving the Way for Hybrid Enterprise Networks Including Private 5G.” Our fireside chat touched on private networks and orchestration; highlighting how DISH Wireless and IBM are working together to enable business intents, orchestrate and dynamically manage application policies and multi-cloud application connectivity within a 5G environment. 



During the event, we also co-created two innovative AR demos with Nokia following the theme “Network as Code.” These demos align with GSMA’s Open Gateway initiative to showcase how DISH Wireless’ private network solutions can be exposed to enterprises through open APIs, empowering organizations and enabling new revenue generation opportunities through network slicing and autonomous actions.


Overall, MWC was not only a success for DISH Wireless, but proved the industry as a whole is accelerating in the right direction. We are looking forward to attending the event next year, and sharing our progress with the industry as we continue to deploy and expand our cloud-based Open RAN DISH 5G network across the U.S.