C-band television systems. Launching satellites into space for broadcast TV. Introducing digital video recording systems for greater consumer flexibility. Offering Sling TV as an alternative for standard cable subscriptions and on-demand viewing.
For decades, DISH has altered how people consume media — today, they’re on a mission to change the way the world communicates through DISH Wireless.
Unlike other big-name wireless competitors, DISH Wireless isn’t fighting to take up space in the market; they’re trying to provide more options with a new way of doing things — while shaking up an old and tired industry.
“DISH Wireless is a cloud company — it’s the largest hybrid cloud in the world,” said Said Berrahil, vice president of 5G technology. “More directly, it’s a cloud company that offers telecom as a service, because our benefit is being data first.”
For leaders like Berrahil, finding success at DISH Wireless requires the patience to fulfill goals one at a time, and the ability to sift through a large pool of dirty data when there’s no roadmap in place from one point to the next.
“If you are a developer for the future, what data and tools would you want?” asked Mary Parsons, developer engagement manager. “Dream big and let us build those tools to empower you to innovate like never before. We’re a place full of people who say, ‘I’ve got a crazy idea’ and it’s those crazy ideas that drive us forward to change the industry.”
“Our ambition is to find real technology enthusiasts — any enthusiast interested in cutting-edge advancements in telecommunications and driving their own ambitions forward,” added Madhuri Muttreja, enterprise data architect. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where the company is ready to change, the telco industry is ready to accept the changes, and you can make a change in your own career alongside it.”
SMOKING GOALS AND SMOKING COALS
According to Muttreja, DISH Wireless’ success lies in disregarding traditional methods and removing data operation redundancies everywhere they can in order to make repeatable processes. That means not just building out the architecture, but properly managing the data once it’s in possession. By supporting developers to accelerate the progress of their solutions and apps, DISH Wireless is eliminating the frustrating and laborious concept of “a closed black box” and instead offering an open architecture and design for end-to-end observability.
“At DISH Wireless, we’re building a community and a culture to develop tools that are forward-thinking,” Berrahil said. “I crossed two continents and an ocean to participate in this revolution — you can get on the highway and come here to make a difference.”
Tell me more about DISH Wireless’ vision for the future during a period of significant growth in a new market.
Said Berrahil: The process of testing in telecom is typically to validate. So you might run test cases, they fail and then you write a ticket. We want to go to the next stage, which is not to test to validate or to monitor, but to learn. So our testing’s main role is to provide enough data and to have the data exposed and the data used in order to innovate at the speed of the cloud.
Madhuri Muttreja: When we say a new generation of 5G wireless, the two main concepts that DISH Wireless is backing are that it is zero-touch and human by exception, and it’s a self-healing network. To be zero-touch and human by exception: is the aspect of automation and learning from data anywhere it exists. We need to operate on data where it lives rather than bringing it to a central system to execute along with the speed of business. To maintain the continuity of the cloud, we also need data to have its continuity as well. This helps be agnostic across the ecosystem of our wireless infrastructure.
The interesting aspect we’re dealing with is not only do we have to build agnostic solutions for a hyper-distributed ecosystem; we have to deal with extreme diversity in data variety, velocities and volumes.
How are teams at DISH Wireless disrupting the industries they touch?
Muttreja: DISH Wireless dares you to go out and change the world with a platform. One of the first statements our EVP and Chief Network Officer, Marc Rouanne, said to me was “Dream, Madhuri! Dream. If you cannot dream, then what will we become other than the same telco we were a few years ago?”
The big analogy I like to make is that “every pole we see on the side of the road means that data and intelligence can be processed there.” This is why we cannot wait for data to come to a central place. Everything is a data center for us starting from a pole. Our biggest principle is do not move data, but derive value close to where it is generated. Hyper-distributed data and analytics frameworks are the enablers.
SKILLS FOR DISH WIRELESS’ IDEAL CANDIDATE
- Passion to innovate and solve business issues and bring value from data.
- Understand the cloud so that they can observe and get the data they need.
- Possess the right software skills. “We use testing as a tool or as a weapon to hunt down data so you need to have the software skills to build the data product,” Berrahil said.
- Be able to create value from the data.
- Once you have this data that you have handed down, how are you going to make a pattern out of it? “When a developer joins our team, this is where we expect them to grow — we don’t expect them to automatically have that knowledge. Training is an important part because it is the fuel of innovation.”
What is the company culture like at DISH Wireless and what makes the experience unique being together in the Colorado office?
Mary Parsons: One thing the company does every month is “coffee with a coworker,” and you have the opportunity to throw your name in to be randomly matched with another person within DISH Wireless to meet with them. It’s a great way to learn what other people are doing in the business, and it gives you a breadth of knowledge about what other people are struggling with or where they’re finding success. Our campus is also right here on the Platte River, just steps away from the Littleton downtown area with quaint shops and restaurants. Sometimes you’ll grab a couple of people sitting around you and go for a 15-minute walk, get some fresh air and talk about ideas, celebrate wins or even air project grievances so we can come back and focus again.
Every Thursday after work we have what’s called Thirsty Thursday, and it’s a corporate-sponsored event where there’s cornhole, drinks and snacks for everyone. You’d be surprised how many great ideas come out of that, because people feel relaxed and comfortable in an informal setting.
Muttreja: One of my favorite benefits is our mentorship program. You can connect to be paired with a mentor to help you grow in an area you want to know more about or you can even sign up as a mentor. If you want to go from technology to management, or any other career direction, it gives you invaluable guidance there. We also have events like our annual Oktoberfest where you can bring in your families and get together with the entire local team.
We’re moving so quickly that we don’t have the luxury of waiting for external sources to catch up to the level of education and training that we need — we have to foster that within our own teams.
What type of goals has DISH Wireless accomplished that originated from “dreaming big” as a team?
Berrahil: When we talk about 5G, it’s not about revenue per user, it’s not about speed and it’s not about selling SIM cards. It’s about using the data to make the world more relevant to us.The world that we live in is becoming increasingly complex, and we want to simplify things and make experiences personalized and accessible.
Muttreja: We are trying to create two parts of our entire ecosystem. The infrastructure that is building out on a new paradigm is totally new in how we manage hyper-distributed data. We have to create a platform that can be placed anywhere in the ecosystem, and it has to work. That’s one innovation that we’re doing with reusability in mind .The second is a suite of data products. When we say data products, it is an access method and a nugget of data that goes to support a service in the end and that is built at scale.
Parsons: I cannot do what I’m doing without input from Said’s team or the work that Madhuri’s team is accomplishing. Nothing about our team’s vision, drive or objectives could be possible without the tight-knit collaboration amongst all of these teams. Everybody understands that a key tenant of our organization is working together. It’s a fluid, easy and amazing experience. For anybody coming into the organization: No matter what team you sit on, you get exposure to what everybody else is doing. You get to learn from them and it creates a stronger work environment to build the best products in the end.