A couple of years ago Dish Wireless put out a short press release saying that it had chosen inventory and service order management software from Blue Planet, a division of Ciena, to automate its 5G wireless network.

At MWC in Barcelona earlier this month, Fierce Wireless spoke with representatives of Blue Planet to find out what that work really entails.

Kailem Anderson, VP of portfolio and engineering at Blue Planet, said, “If you look at Dish, we’re automating their mobile infrastructure that spans transport, packet core, RAN and the intelligent edge.”

Perhaps the best way of understanding Blue Planet’s role at Dish is to understand who Blue Planet considers as its competitors in this regard — namely Amdocs and Netcracker.

But while Amdocs and Netcracker are usually thought of as vendors of operations support systems and billing support systems (OSS/BSS), Anderson said Blue Planet’s role at Dish is with the OSS – but not the BSS.

He said that Blue Planet is serving two main roles for Dish. It’s handling the onboarding of subscribers via service order management. And it organizes and manages Dish’s infrastructure inventory. Because Dish’s greenfield 5G network is fully virtualized and operates in the cloud, “inventory is dynamic in Dish’s network,” he said. In traditional brownfield networks, most OSS functions require manual steps, but in Dish’s network everything is automated.

Kevin Wade, senior director and product marketing team leader at Blue Planet, said the company handles both physical inventory management such as switches and routers and radio hardware, as well as virtual elements such as cloud-based network functions, many of which are with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“We work at a services layer,” said Wade. “When we provision a service, we’ll let a charging system know.” But Blue Planet doesn’t handle the billing aspect, itself.

Network slicing

Dish Wireless has also been planning for network slicing from the get-go, and Blue Planet is supporting that.

When Dish announced its relationship with Blue Planet in 2020, Dish Chief Network Officer Marc Rouanne stated, “With Blue Planet’s open, agile and programmable approach, Dish can rapidly deploy services and allocate resources to wholesale and enterprise customers, allowing them to provision network slices based on SLAs.”

Blue Planet offers a 5G network slicing solution that incorporates end-to-end orchestration and observability of slices across the network.

Anderson estimates that some operators will be using its network slicing software within the next 18 months.

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