DISH Wireless, a subsidiary of EchoStar, has been awarded a historic $50 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to establish the Open RAN Center for Integration & Deployment (ORCID). ORCID will allow participants to test and validate their hardware and software solutions (RU, DU and CU) against a complete commercial-grade Open RAN network deployed by DISH.
“The Open RAN Center for Integration and Deployment will serve a critical role in strengthening the global Open RAN ecosystem and building the next generation of wireless networks,” said Charlie Ergen, co-founder and chairman, EchoStar. “By leveraging DISH’s experience deploying the world’s first standalone Open RAN 5G network, ORCID will be uniquely positioned to test and evaluate Open RAN interoperability, performance and security from domestic and international vendors. We appreciate NTIA’s recognition of DISH and ORCID’s role in driving Open RAN innovation and the Administration’s ongoing commitment to U.S. leadership in wireless connectivity.”
To date, this grant represents NTIA’s largest award under the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund (Innovation Fund). ORCID will be housed in DISH’s secure Cheyenne, Wyoming campus and will be supported by consortium partners Fujitsu, Mavenir and VMware by Broadcom and technology partners Analog Devices, ARM, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Intel, JMA Wireless, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Samsung.
NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson and Innovation Fund Director Amanda Toman will join EchoStar Co-Founder and Chairman Charlie Ergen, EchoStar CEO Hamid Akhavan, EVP and Chief Network Officer Marc Rouanne and other stakeholders to announce the grant and tour a DISH 5G Open RAN cell site later today in Las Vegas.
During this event, DISH will outline ORCID’s unique advantages, including that it will leverage DISH’s experience as the only operator in the United States to commercially deploy a standalone Open RAN 5G network. DISH and its industry partners have validated Open RAN technology at scale across the country; today DISH’s network covers over 246 million Americans nationwide.
At ORCID, participants will be able to test and evaluate individual or multiple network elements to ensure Open RAN interoperability, performance and security, and contribute to the development, deployment and adoption of open and interoperable standards-based radio access networks. ORCID’s “living laboratory” will drive the Open RAN ecosystem — from lab testing to commercial deployment.
Highlights of ORCID include:
- ORCID will combine both lab and field testing and evaluation activities. ORCID will be able to test elements brought by any qualified vendor against DISH’s live, complete and commercial-grade Open RAN stack.
- ORCID will use DISH’s spectrum holdings, a combination of low-, mid- and high-band frequencies, enabling field testing and evaluation.
- ORCID will evaluate Open RAN elements through mixing and matching with those of other vendors, rather than validating a single vendor’s stack. DISH’s experience in a multi-vendor environment will give ORCID unique insights about the integration of Open RAN into brownfield networks.
- ORCID’s multi-tenant lab and field testing will occur in DISH’s secure Cheyenne, Wyoming facility, which is already compliant with stringent security protocols in light of its satellite functions.