Dish Network taps Dell for 5G network infrastructure

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Dell Technologies is seen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

(Reuters) - Dish Network will tap Dell Technologies Inc for key parts of the new 5G network it is building in the United States, the companies said on Thursday.

Dish has committed to U.S. regulators to covering 70% of the country's population with its network by mid-2023 and will launch its first 5G service in Las Vegas, Nevada later this year.

Unlike existing carriers who are upgrading their networks for newer 5G speeds and capabilities, Dish is building its network from scratch.

To do so, it is leaning a technology called Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) that uses software to run network functions on standardized computing hardware, rather than buying almost all the gear in the network from a telecommunications-specific from providers such as Nokia or Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

The approach allows Dish to mix and match hardware and services from different vendors, and the company has previously announced deals with Fujitsu Ltd for cell-tower gear and cloud computing services Amazon Web Services.

Under the deal, Dell will provide Dish with computer servers that will sit at the bottom of cell towers or nearby to crunch data when sending it all the way back to a central data center would cause too much delay, such as helping future cars communicate with city infrastructure.

"We can put the servers at the bottom of the tower, or we can centralize 10, 15 or 50 sites," Dish's Executive Vice President and Chief Network Officer Marc Rouanne said in an interview. "The beauty of this edge cloud is the software can be placed where we want it."

The deal gives Dell a flagship U.S. customer for the technology. Earlier this week Vodafone said Dell will help it build Europe's first O-RAN 5G network.

“For us it begins with an infrastructure platform that’s open and industry standard," said Dennis Hoffman, head of Dell's telecoms systems business. “There’s a priority on the ability to scale globally and provide stability."

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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