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  • Writer's pictureMike Entner

Exploring the 5G Strategies of Rakuten Mobile and DISH Network: A Comparative Analysis

By Michael Entner-Gómez | Digital Transformation Officer | Entner Consulting Group, LLC.



In a recent piece by Mike Dano on DISH Network (link to article), some pressing questions about DISH Network's struggles to monetize their new network are raised. This topic was brought to the forefront by my colleague, Carlo Saul Perez 🇲🇽, a Wireless/Telecom Solution Manager. Carlo was curious about the stark differences in the deployment strategies between Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and DISH Network, and he asked for my take on this.


Rakuten Mobile's Open RAN-based 5G Network 


Rakuten's transition from 4G to 5G involved adopting an Open RAN-based 5G network, a pivotal move towards cloud-native and Standalone (SA) 5G architectures. This strategy promotes vendor flexibility and leverages cloud computing for efficient network function deployment. However, it's not without its challenges. SRG's testing revealed that Rakuten's network underperformed in HTTP data transfers, a critical component for internet traffic. This issue affected both their LTE and 5G performances, with 5G particularly falling below expectations. SRG also found that the spectral efficiency was highest with LTE, decreasing with the addition of 5G, likely due to scheduling inefficiencies.


DISH Network's Greenfield 5G Approach 


Conversely, DISH has embarked on developing a greenfield 5G network, also leveraging Open RAN. Their cloud-native approach aims for a modular and flexible network deployment. Transitioning to SA 5G is expected to yield a more efficient network. Yet, managing a multi-vendor environment has introduced significant integration challenges. As Ericsson North America's CTO, Michael A.J. Murphy, points out, ensuring performance standards and managing the costs and complexities of new vendor relationships and system integrations are non-trivial challenges.


The Delicate Balance of 5G Deployment 


Both Rakuten and DISH's strategies underline the delicate balance between embracing technical innovation and achieving practical network performance. Rakuten's spectral efficiency and HTTP data performance issues, and DISH's integration challenges in a multi-vendor environment, demonstrate the complexities in the deployment of 5G networks.


I've delved deeper into this topic in a detailed write-up for a client, which unfortunately contains proprietary insights and can't be shared. However, I'm open to discussion and would love to hear your thoughts, additions, or counterpoints on this fascinating subject.


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