In the final feverish hours before MWC22 opens its doors to the global mobile networking community, some 60,000 of whom decamped to Barcelona for most of the week, Amazon Web Services (AWS) decided it was Time to share some details on how it’s underpinning one of the most compelling developments in recent years – the build and launch of Dish Network’s new Open RAN-based 5G network in the US.
On Sunday, February 27, AWS posted a blog titled “Telco Meets AWS Cloud: Deploying DISH’s 5G Network in AWS Cloud” which is equally attributed to five network architects and engineers, including Ammar Latif, Senior Telecom Solutions Architect at AWS, and Ash Khamas, Principal 5G Solutions Architect for DISH Wireless. (Thanks to Mike Dano of Light Reading for bringing the blog to my attention.)
The blog essentially details how AWS has planned and built the distributed cloud hosting platform for Dish’s 5G radio access and core networking functions since securing the deal in April last year for help Dish deliver the revolutionary Open RAN-based nationwide 5G service in the United States.
The blog is great reading, even for those of us who don’t understand much about it. What it does, however, is lay out and show exactly how the theory so often shared by many in the cloud-native networking industry over the past few years is put into practice, and the impact it has on the network operation, because it is far from the traditional mobile network configuration.
It describes the overall supporting cloud architecture, how different types of data center assets are used to support different levels of functionality, and how the national AWS platform in the United States will be used by Dish: for example, AWS Breakout Edge Data Centers (BEDCs) are deployed in AWS Local Zones and are used to host ‘NF 5G [network functions] who have strict latency budgets… [and] also provide internet peering for general 5G data service and enterprise customer-specific private network service. BEDCs also host the Centralized Unit (CU) element of the Open RAN architecture and the User Plane Function (UPF) which “anchors user data sessions and routes to the Internet. BEDCs take advantage of local Internet access available in AWS Local Zones, enabling a better user experience while optimizing network traffic utilization. This kind of surge capacity also allows enterprise customers and DISH end users (gamers, streaming media and other applications) to take full advantage of 5G speeds with minimal latency. DISH has access to 16 local areas across the United States and continues to expand.
The blog authors also provide details on cloud zone redundancy, central connectivity, deployment automation, CI/CD security, and more. And in one of the blog’s few comparison items, the authors note that the AWS platform delivers, on average, an 80% reduction in cloud native function (CNF) deployment and update time. compared to traditional deployment models (days to minutes). ).”
(Side note: what the blog authors don’t comprehensively address is how the work of the past year compares to what should have been done using “traditional” network technology and the But this comparison, from a cost perspective, comes to mind because it’s a point that’s been hammered home time and time again, including at MWC22, by Tareq Amin, who led the construction of the new Japanese 4G/5G network at Rakuten Mobile. This architecture is not backed by a public cloud giant – it runs on Rakuten’s own cloud platform, which it is fortunate to have thanks to the many digital activities from the Rakuten Group – but Amin repeatedly points out that any attempt to build a new 4G or 5G network in the “traditional” way and expect to be on time and financially competitive would be impossible – the numbers just don’t add up This is also what caused se 1&1 in Germany to adopt a cloud-oriented and Open RAN approach for its planned new network. What is the total cost to build and operate one of these networks and how would that compare to using an alternative deployment strategy over the lifetime of a network and delivery Services ? This is the multi-billion dollar question to which we will never have the definitive answer…)
Of course, the whole blog is positive about the design, functionality, and capabilities – the caveats, doubts, pitfalls, and nightmare scenarios abound. But it’s a great insight into the thinking behind and planning for what is currently the most anticipated 5G launch in the telecom industry.
And that’s perhaps the most important point of all, at this point…the Dish 5G service has yet to launch – in fact, it’s now been long delayed, with the initial commercial service launch ahead of having started in Las Vegas many times last year. Of course, Dish won’t launch until it’s convinced it has a successful service with which to emerge and take on US mobile carriers, as AT&T, T-Mobile US and Verizon are ready and waiting to give Dish a tough ride, and a report last December suggested there was still a lot of work to do in the Nevada launch market.
But Dish doesn’t have much time to get up and running: It currently has no commercial service and only has until June to fulfill its license requirement to cover 20% of the US population with its 5G service, a objective which increases to 70% coverage of the population only one year later.
Can the AWS-based approach help with deployment much faster than previously imagined? We will find out within the next three months.
– Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV