Dish Network is continuing to move forward with its work on 5G, and has been granted permission by the Federal Communications Commission to test 5G at a site in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen recently admitted that the company is about six months behind schedule in its 5G deployment plans. However, the company maintained on its recent earnings call that it intends to light up service in 25 metros ahead of a June timeline for achieving 20% population coverage.
On that call, Ergen said that delays were related to the company’s discovery that as it builds out a greenfield, cloud-native network with Open RAN architecture. A recurring criticism of this approach is around system integration complexity, which Ergen noted on the call.
“I think that ultimately, we found that we had to become the system integrator. It wasn’t a role that we thought we’re going to take on,” he said. “But with all the vendors, somebody has got to be the middleman between there and the glue that holds them together, and we’re much more involved in that than maybe we thought we’re going to be. So a lot of lessons learned there, but we’re certainly moving at a very fast pace. Now we probably squandered some time, but that’s my fault.”
Dish is up against a number of build-out requirements under which it must activate service on some of its extensive spectrum holdings, or risk losing its licenses because they have laid fallow too long.
According to the Special Temporary Authority filing granted by the FCC, Dish will be testing 5G using AWS-3 spectrum at 1.755-1.760 GHz and 2.155-2.160 GHz at a single site in the Oklahoma City area. (Dish’s AWS-3 spectrum holdings, it should be noted, have been the subject of controversy because of bidding credits the FCC says the company improperly received.)
The company plans to use five base stations and 10 mobile devices in its testing. Dish has used the same spectrum for field testing of its 5G network in Las Vegas.
The STA grants Dish the ability to test at that site for six months, and it expires in September 2022.