Dish welcomes developers to its virtualized 5G network

Dish Wireless has set up a new developer’s website, announcing that it will expose its network function application programming interfaces (APIs) to developers, allowing them to experiment on its 5G network platform.

Dish has timed its new developer hub to coincide with the AWS re:Invent conference happening in Las Vegas this week. It will be hosting a “level up your dev” workshop at the event. The series of two-hour sessions, targeted at select application developers and technical thought leaders, will give attendees an early preview of how Dish APIs can be used.

Dish will use examples from eight software vendors at its workshop, including Cisco, Confluent, IBM, Macrometa, Oracle, Palantir, Swim and Totogi.

The vendors were chosen because they have software that can be combined with the Dish Wireless network APIs to create new applications.

Dish is giving developers access to areas of a mobile network that operators have traditionally kept tightly controlled. Developers will have access to traffic control, policy and routing, distributed compute, and wireless connectivity from any device to any cloud.

According to its developer hub, users will be able to:

  • Provision basic 5G network connections and activate and manage the lifecycle of their devices;
  • Test the configuration, performance and cost predictions for their network;
  • Stream near real-time data to understand the status of their devices, services and network.

In a blog for Dish’s new developer site, Totogi Senior Sales Engineer Vlad Sorici said, “When was the last time a Mobile Network Operator (MNO) let you freely code with its connectivity? That’s right: Never. Dish Wireless CNO Marc Rouanne has a vision to change that by creating an open set of network APIs that lets anyone  —  from a single developer or startup all the way to large enterprises  —  add connectivity to anything, for any reason, with unfettered access.”

Sorici acknowledged that no wireless carrier has offered this kind of openness before because of concern that a developer might “go wild” on the network, disrupting the quality of service for other subscribers. “As such, it’s made it nearly impossible for developers or startups to add connectivity to a device or service easily,” wrote Sorici.

Fierce Wireless reached out to Dish to find out how it will protect its network from the developers. Dish sent an email answer:

"When you hear about key aspects of the Dish Wireless network — the security posture and SBA of 5G, network slicing, RIC, O-RAN, virtualization, and continuous deployment — they are not simply legacy telco components with new branding. These are all new critical technical enablers that taken together add up to how we achieve the isolation and service exposure functionality required for multi-tenancy. Enabling multi-tenancy so enterprise devs can assemble/program/scale their own network on our network is a primary goal for Dish Wireless."

Dish also wants to build a new software development community to write applications for its 5G network.

And Dish plans to monetize its network by charging per API call.


For its part, Totogi in September announced that its charging-as-a-service software would be available on the AWS Marketplace. Totogi’s product allows programmers to charge fees based on network usage and events.
In an announcement today, Danielle Royston, acting CEO of Totogi, stated, “The innovative approach by Dish Wireless is huge for the telco industry. Dish’s network APIs work just like an AWS service, where the library of APIs provides the services you need to add connectivity to anything. Because Dish has built these services on AWS, you can combine connectivity with the AWS services you love to create new, powerful software applications.”

In his blog post on the Dish developer hub, Sorici gave the example of a glucose monitor connected to the Dish 5G network. A healthcare provider would be able to help a patient subscribe to the glucose monitoring application by using available APIs. And the connection on the 5G network would be a lot simpler to provision and manage than existing glucose monitoring applications that use a Bluetooth device.