Despite a rocky start, the carrier met its FCC-mandated 20% coverage deadline
“Will they or won’t they?” has been a near-constant water cooler question in telecom for months: Will Dish Wireless be able to meet the deadline imposed by the Federal Communications Commission, to offer service to 20% of the population by June 14, 2022? Contradictory rumors confirming Dish’s imminent success or failure published on the day. But before the market opened on Wednesday, Dish confirmed that it indeed has met the FCC deadline, reaching more than 20% of the U.S. with its new 5G service by June 14th. By this time next month, Dish will have filed its buildout report with the FCC, so we’ll have to wait until then for more granularity. For now, though, Dish seems happy to take the win.
“As of June 14, Dish is offering 5G broadband service to over 20 percent of the U.S. population. This marks a major milestone in building the world’s most advanced cloud-native 5G Open RAN network, as Dish continues to change the way the world communicates,” said the company in a statement.
Dave Mayo, Dish Wireless executive vice president of Network Development, offered thanks to numerous Dish partners in announcing the milestone. He thanked AWS, Cisco, CommScope, Dell, Fujitsu, Intel, JMA, Mavenir, Nokia, Oracle, Palo Alto, Qualcomm, Samsung and VMware, adding, “We’re the only major network in the world built primarily with American vendors.”
Dish Wireless’s deployment got off to a rocky start. Company chairman Charlie Ergen told investors earlier this year that the company’s greenfield 5G network deployment was six months behind schedule.
‘A lot of lessons learned’
“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. But with all the vendors, somebody has got to be the middleman between them and the glue that holds them together, and we’re much more involved in that than maybe we thought we were 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,” Ergen said.
It was only the beginning of May when Dish announced its 5G service was available in Las Vegas, as long as you were willing to dish out $900 for a Motorola Edge+ smartphone — the only one Dish had qualified to work. Since then, Dish said it has expanded its network to include more than 120 cities across the country. Dish noted that the number of supported devices has tripled, to now include the Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone and NetGear 5G hotspot. Subscribers must visit Dish’s Project Genesis web site to find out if they’re eligible for service and to sign up.
Dish said it’s the first service provider in the U.S. to support Voice over New Radio (VoNR). VoNR is a core 5G service only possible for operators running standalone 5G deployments. VoNR implements voice calls as end-to-end Voice over IP (VoIP) connections managed using an IP Multimedia System (IMS) core architecture. Dish said it will expand VoNR service and functionality as it optimizes the technology.
“Dish’s 5G broadband service is 3GPP Release 15 enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) compliant and runs through Dish’s 5G core,” said the company. “The 20 percent coverage utilizes Dish’s AWS-4, Lower 700 MHz E Block and AWS H Block spectrum.”