Dish Network (yes, the TV company) has been building its own cellular network in the United States, competing with other cell phone plans, which finally started going live in Las Vegas back in May. Now it’s supposedly available in over 120 cities.
Dish announced today that its 5G network, currently branded as ‘Project Genesis’, now covers “over 20 percent of the U.S. population” and over 120 cities. The full list of locations is available on the Project Genesis site, including Dallas, TX, Nashville, TN, Columbus, OH, and other metro areas. However, only two devices are currently compatible with Dish’s nationwide network, and only if you purchase them from Dish: the Samsung Galaxy S22 and Netgear Nighthawk M6 Pro Hotspot. The cellular plan for smartphones is $30/mo, and includes unlimited data, talk, and text, while the hotspot plan is $20/mo with unlimited data.
Dish’s current infrastructure almost certainly has many dead zones, but the company has partnered with other networks so smartphones switch btween “multiple networks at any location and at any point in time” for the best available signal. Dish says this a “first of a kind” feature, but it’s more or less how cellular roaming has always worked. AT&T and T-Mobile appear to be the partner networks for now.
So, why is Dish building a cellular network? T-Mobile and Sprit merged into a single company back in 2020, but the U.S. government only allowed it if another company agreed to buy Boost Mobile (a prepaid carrier previously owned by Sprint) and some wireless spectrum — essentially setting up another competitor to replace Sprint in the market. Dish Network agreed to the deal, which required the company to build a network that covered 20% of the U.S. population by June 14, 2022, and at least 70% by mid-2023. Dish says its new nationwide network went live on June 14, just barely avoiding FCC fines.
There aren’t many reports of real-world usage yet, so it’s not clear if the network is actually working everywhere Dish claims it’s live. One Reddit user in Orlando, FL did receive their Netgear hotspot, and reported download speeds of around 20.6 Mbps. The signup form works for my home address in Raleigh, but Mitchell Clark at The Verge was unable to sign up with their home address (even though they lived in a supported area), and could only complete the process by shipping the order to a workplace address.
If you want to sign up yourself, head over to the Project Genesis website.
Source: Dish Newsroom