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Dish Network, Vodafone embrace VMware telecom services integration

Dish Network and Vodafone are integrating new VMware telecommunication services into their networks.

The latest moves have Dish Network trialing VMware’s Telco Cloud Service Assurance platform as part of that carrier’s cloud-based 5G network. The carrier is using the platform to provide network performance monitoring and reporting across its multi-vendor open RAN and virtualized RAN (vRAN) environment.

Padma Sudarsan, chief architect for telco and software-defined edge at VMware, explained in a press briefing that the platform is “the observability and assurance services part” of the vendor’s service management and orchestration (SMO) framework. She added that it provides “real-time monitoring assurance and automation with visibility and actionable insights to help manage and operate the network efficiently.”

This is a somewhat complex task as Dish Network is running open radio access network (RAN) gear from both Samsung and Mavenir.

“The observability and assurance service will play an instrumental role in enabling Dish Wireless to get this holistic view and to be able to manage their multi-vendor environments” as well as “help improve their network operations and efficiency.”

Dish Network had previously noted the difficulty it has had in stitching together the disparate parts of a network that open RAN provides.

“Management of the overall structure was an area that we struggled with,” David Zufall, VP wireless infrastructure development at Dish Network, explained during a panel discussion at a 5G Challenge event last fall. “How can we make sure that the entire software distribution system is clean, that we’ve got the ability to manage all the individual vendors.”

VMware has been a long-standing partner for Dish Network. This includes providing the carrier with the initial release of its VMware Telco Cloud Platform in 2021. Dish Network is also using VMware’s platform as an abstraction layer running across multiple network domains and will allow Dish to tap into hyperscaler public cloud capacity while maintaining core control points.

VMware has since updated that specific platform and expanded its reach into other 5G markets like private 5G and mobile edge compute (multi-access edge computing (MEC).

VMware’s RAN intelligent controller (RIC) work with Vodafone
VMware is also expanding its RIC efforts with Vodafone as part of that operator’s work in applying network programmability and intelligence into the RAN. This collaboration is part of a proof-of-concept (PoC) targeting challenges caused by short-form video content.

The PoC is targeted at reducing network congestion caused by short-form video content while also supporting higher rate encoding of that content. Sudarsan said that this content is “displacing quite a lot of capacity demands” for service providers.

“To cater to this demand of these data- intensive services requires a new methodology and approach for organizing traditional wireless networks,” Sudarsan said. In the case of what Vodafone is doing, “this involves the development of network API‘s and harnessing the power of VMware’s RIC.”

The latest PoC also builds on past RIC work between Vodafone and VMware. This included VMware providing the RIC platform that Vodafone used to support open RAN components in a test environment, which resulted in a doubling of capacity at a 5G cell site.

The RIC operates in the middle of an open RAN deployment as a kind of linkage to the wider network. It allows operators to deploy xApps and rApps that then allow operators to design and control RAN functions, providing administrative RAN sovereignty over functions that are typically implemented as proprietary features on base stations.

These “apps” are microservice-based applications operating in near-real time (xApps) and non-real time (rApps) that provide an operator with more control over their open RAN environments.

VMware this week also bolstered its RIC efforts through a new “testbed-as-a-service” with Viavi Solutions. This combines Viavi’s TeraVM RIC Test with VMware’s RIC to create a digital twin that can be used to evaluate and benchmark application performance.

Viavi is also providing geolocation data and xApps and rApps with RAN data over the VMware RIC platform. This is designed to simplify the process of service providers capturing relevant data once and then emulating it with multiple applications. SDX Central

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