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Dish’s 5G network covers less than 30% of U.S. population

Four months after meeting the FCC’s June 14, 2022 coverage requirement of offering 5G to 20% of the population, Dish Network says its 5G standalone network now covers “well in excess of 25% of the U.S. population.”

This latest statement from the company follows a comment earlier this week by Tom Cullen, EVP of corporate development, at Dish who referred to the company’s Project Genesis, its current name for its 5G network, “as a nationwide beta test” and said that the network covers “less than 30% of the population at this point.”

Cullen, however, did say that Dish has 10,000 towers operational today and is adding 1,000 towers per month. The goal is to have 15,000 towers operational by next June. Cullen made these comments while speaking at the Incompas 2022 event in Denver.

But only growing the company’s 5G network’s coverage by a little more than 5% in four months doesn’t sit well with the financial community. Phil Burnett, equity analyst with New Street Research said that he believes the company should be closer to 40% coverage with its network buildout if it wants to hit the next FCC coverage mandate of 70% of the U.S. population by June 14, 2023.

A Dish Network spokeswoman, however, said that the company is focused on meeting that 2023 goal. “The network build is not a linear process, and we continue to stay laser focused on meeting the buildout requirements set by the FCC,” she said.

These FCC network buildout requirements were instituted by the agency as part of its approval of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger in 2020 because Dish was set up to take Sprint’s place as a fourth national competitor. Dish acquired Sprint’s Boost Mobile prepaid business, which operates under MVNO agreements while Dish builds its own 5G network. After the 2023 deadline, Dish must cover 75% of the population in each of the 400 or so Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) by mid-2025.

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