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Dishing on Disruptive 5G: Why Putting Everything in the Cloud Is a Virtual Gamechanger


To enter a highly competitive market in a disruptive manner, DISH had to shake up the old way of doing things. That meant not just deploying fast 5G but finding ways to deploy 5G quickly while pioneering groundbreaking rollout strategies entirely in the public cloud.

The discussion around 5G tends to revolve around speed. Fast connectivity. Low latencies. Next-gen app performance.

But actually planning, testing and deploying 5G? Speed is usually not a word that comes to mind.

DISH Network wanted to change that.

In fact, it didn’t have a choice. To enter a highly competitive market in a disruptive manner, it had to shake up the old way of doing things. That meant not just deploying fast 5G but finding ways to deploy 5G quickly. All while pioneering groundbreaking rollout strategies entirely in the public cloud. The first company to attempt such a feat.

Oh, and it needed the entire vendor community it counted on to come along for the ride.
Ambitious? Completely. But thanks to advancements in automation and virtual testing, entirely possible with the right partners at the helm.

Spirent is proud to be serving a pivotal role helping to bring DISH’s disruptive dreams to reality, ushering in unprecedented agility, scale, and new services along the way.

Sky’s the limit in the cloud

DISH’s high-profile partnership to deploy a 5G wireless service entirely on public cloud infrastructure is an industry first. In other words, there was no roadmap – only confidence that network advancements had come far enough to support it.

DISH is deploying an OpenRAN, cloud-native 5G network, eyeing a services menu that extends far beyond connectivity. Its strategy includes prepping the network for enterprise-level capabilities like network slicing. Secure slices, monitoring slices, low latency slices. Some optimized for cost, reliability, and redundancy.

A robust slicing capability means the sky is the limit for next-gen service delivery. It also means testing time frames measured in hours, not months.

To support such a stringent requirement, DISH decided early on that its testing and lab strategy would be completely virtual. It called on all its vendors to test in a cloud-based lab that replicated DISH’s network on AWS. Same stacks, same networking, sub-nets, security and so on. When these vendors test in a virtual lab, they are essentially testing exactly what is to be expected in the DISH network.

This dynamic is far removed from traditional approaches that spanned 12-18 months and necessitated reengineering as testing efforts progressed from vendor lab to the operator lab to the live network.

Typically, hurdles abound when trying to get a range of partners to standardize on one strategy. DISH’s ace up the sleeve on this front was the fact that every network vendor it worked with already used Spirent test equipment and services.

That meant each was able to take advantage of new capabilities Spirent announced this year, combining AWS’s Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline with Spirent’s 5G test capabilities for objective, rapid and continuous validation of network functions and services. The 5G automated core testing solution comprises Spirent Landslide and its accompanying 5G core automation framework.

Automation for the win

Importantly, DISH and its vendors gain access to a single, automated test library for 5G Standalone and Non-Standalone applications. This expanding library continuously adds the latest 5G testing use cases to streamline network rollouts at every step. Now, DISH can move at the speed of competition – whether from traditional telcos or emerging OTT players also seeking to disrupt the wireless market.

A main driver of the speed and agility afforded to DISH in its pursuit of cloud-based 5G services delivery is massive automation. Running tests manually for so many different services, network functions – and eventually, network slices – would require a sequential process with limited parameters. In DISH’s testing utopia, having automated, replicable virtual labs hosted on AWS infrastructure, means avoiding physical-hardware-related challenges and delays at every turn.

Learn how your 5G network can leverage a library of automated test cases to speed 5G core test and validation.

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Tags5G, Automation
Doug Roberts
Doug Roberts

Executive Vice President and General Manager, Automated Test & Assurance

Doug Roberts is Executive Vice President and General Manager of Spirent’s Automated Test & Assurance Division. Doug has 25 years’ experience across various product innovation, and business transformation roles. Before joining Spirent, Doug held leadership positions at Viavi and NetScout. With over 14 years of his career spent at Danaher, Doug is well-known for bringing a disciplined approach that yields results in a predictable manner. He has provided his subject matter expertise in network analysis, application performance, and digital transformation to the world’s largest Service Providers, along with thousands of private enterprises’ through guest speaking and keynote invitations that include RSA Conference, CiscoLive, TechNet, and Amazon’s re:Invent. Doug holds an MBA in Corporate Finance from Mercer University and concluded his undergraduate work in Computer Engineering and Business Management at Georgia Tech and Mercer University.