DISH Wireless Secures $50 mn Grant to Launch Open RAN Center

DISH Wireless, a subsidiary of EchoStar, has been awarded $50 million grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The grant is intended to establish the Open RAN Center for Integration & Deployment (ORCID).
Dish Network wireless businessORCID, spearheaded by DISH Wireless, is poised to become a hub for testing and validating hardware and software solutions related to Radio Units (RU), Distributed Units (DU), and Centralized Units (CU) against a comprehensive commercial-grade Open RAN network meticulously deployed by DISH.

“This initiative, the Open RAN Center for Integration and Deployment (ORCID), assumes a critical role in fortifying the global Open RAN ecosystem and shaping the future of wireless networks,” said Charlie Ergen, the co-founder and chairman of EchoStar.

The $50 million grant from NTIA, the largest to date under the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, will empower ORCID, situated within DISH’s secure Cheyenne, Wyoming campus. A consortium of partners including Fujitsu, Mavenir, and VMware, alongside technology giants such as Analog Devices, ARM, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Intel, JMA Wireless, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Samsung, will support this initiative.

NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson and Innovation Fund Director Amanda Toman are slated to join key figures from EchoStar, including Charlie Ergen, CEO Hamid Akhavan, EVP and Chief Network Officer Marc Rouanne, and other stakeholders. They will formally announce the grant and embark on a tour of a DISH 5G Open RAN cell site in Las Vegas, underscoring the significance of this transformative development in the wireless technology landscape.

DISH, recognized as the sole operator in the U.S. to commercially implement a standalone Open RAN 5G network, plans to elucidate ORCID’s distinctive advantages during the event. The network currently spans over 246 million Americans nationwide, a testament to the successful validation of Open RAN technology at scale across the country.

Highlights of ORCID include its fusion of both laboratory and field testing and evaluation activities. The center will harness DISH’s spectrum holdings, comprising a blend of low, mid, and high-band frequencies, facilitating extensive field testing and evaluation.

Additionally, ORCID will evaluate Open RAN elements by blending and matching offerings from multiple vendors, a departure from validating a single vendor’s stack. Leveraging DISH’s experience in a multi-vendor environment, ORCID aims to provide unparalleled insights into integrating Open RAN into existing networks.

The multi-tenant lab and field testing will take place within DISH’s secure Cheyenne, Wyoming facility, already compliant with rigorous security protocols owing to its satellite functions, ensuring a robust and protected environment for the advancement of Open RAN technology.