Samsung’s Open RAN-compatible kit goes live on Dish 5G network

Samsung campus

Electronics giant Samsung has reached another milestone on its journey to becoming a force to be reckoned with in telco vendor market.

On Wednesday, it revealed that US telco Dish, which is in the middle of rolling out a nationwide, cloud-native 5G network, has begun switching on Samsung-supplied equipment. Specifically, it is using Open RAN-compliant radios, virtualised distributed units (vDU) and central units (vCU), and 5G virtualised RAN (vRAN) software at sites across its growing network footprint. Samsung said it has supplied an initial batch of 24,000 radios, which suggests there may be more to come.

“Samsung is a key player in the Dish Wireless Open RAN ecosystem, created in collaboration with additional Open RAN leaders like Dell, VMware, AWS and others,” said Dish’s chief network officer Marc Rouanne, in a statement.

Samsung was selected by Dish as a supplier in May 2022; the multi-year deal was said to be worth more than a billion dollars. According to Samsung, the intervening period has been spent collaborating with Dish on field tests in preparation for this week’s commercial launch.

“Samsung’s 5G vRAN solutions and our shared innovation process allow Dish Wireless to continue the Dish 5G multi-vendor, open and interoperable cloud-native network buildout, as we progress to covering 70% of the US population,” Rouanne said.

That 70% threshold needs to be met by mid-June, and the company seems to be well on the way to doing just that. According to Dish’s latest financial results, published on Thursday, construction of 15,000 5G sites was underway as of 31 December 2022.

These sites “are capable of providing broadband coverage to over 60% of the US population,” Dish said in an SEC filing. “Construction starts are continuing at a rate of approximately 1,000 5G sites per month.”

Unsurprisingly, an ambitious rollout like this doesn’t come cheap.

“For the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021, total purchases of property and equipment for our wireless segment were $2.596 billion and $1.012 billion, respectively,” Dish said. “This increase primarily resulted from capital expenditures related to our 5G network deployment.”

On top of that, selling, general and administrative (SGA) costs increased by $56 million during 2022, again due to the 5G rollout. Similarly, cost of equipment and other sales totalled $522 million in 2022, an increase of $422 million on 2021. “The increase primarily resulted from an increase in lease expense on communication towers, transport, cloud services, and other costs related to our 5G network,” Dish said.

This is on top of the $30 billion it has already spent on spectrum.

Meanwhile, looking more broadly at the financials, Dish’s full-year revenue fell to $16.7 billion in 2022 from $17.9 billion, resulting in a decline in operating income to $2.05 billion from $3.2 billion. However, this was more than offset by ‘other income’, which surged to $1.06 billion from $15.7 million. As a result, Dish’s net profit fell only slightly to $2.3 billion from $2.4 billion.

It would be nice to see what kind of spin Dish is putting on these figures, but as of the time of writing, its website was offline. It seems that Dish can roll out thousands of cutting-edge 5G sites at a time, but it can’t keep its site up and running.


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