Dish says it now covers approximately 73 million Americans with its 5G airwaves, fulfilling a government commitment to offer 5G service to more than 20% of the US population by mid-June.
The 72,769,696 people Dish is now offering service to through its Project Genesis 5G system is 21.7% of the US population, Dish says in a report(Opens in a new window) it sent to the FCC.
The report focuses on airwaves that most Dish subscribers can't access yet, but Dish confirms to PCMag that the coverage number applies not only to the bands n29, n66, and n70 discussed in the report, but also to band n71 that the carrier is currently using for uplink nationwide.
The report focuses on the band n29, n66, and n70 spectrum because the FCC's initial construction deadlines for those airwaves had expired, and Dish negotiated an extension in 2019 that involved filing this report in mid-2022. (By mid-2023, Dish needs to cover 70% of the population(Opens in a new window) with 5G.)
Dish is not restricting signups based on capacity, only by location, the company says in the report. "If the [customer's] address point is within our service coverage, the customer proceeds with the enrollment process," it says.
That said, Project Genesis isn't being heavily publicized, doesn't have an actual coverage map online, only works on two phone models purchased as part of the service signup, and doesn't work on iPhones yet, all of which lower the number of people who would be willing to sign up.
That's by design. While Dish is required to say that "Project Genesis" is public right now, the company has said it intends to introduce the "Boost Infinite" brand this fall, which will likely be the real consumer rollout for the service.
Still Waiting for Phones
Dish's weird collection of airwaves means its subscribers can't access all of it yet. At the moment, Dish only offers the Samsung Galaxy S22 and Motorola Edge+ phones. Those can access Dish's n71 and n66, but not n70 or n29, the company says in the report.
"We anticipate that device vendors will begin making available user equipment [REDACTED] that will support 3GPP Band n70 (1995-2020 MHz downlink) and Band n29 (722-728 MHz downlink) that can work on Dish’s 5G network. When such devices become available and certified in the US, consumers will be able to purchase and use them on Dish’s 5G network," the report says.
Excitingly, though, Dish says in the report that all of its n71/n66 sites—for example, the ones I connected to while testing in upstate New York in late June and early July—are also equipped with n29 and n70, so when phones become available with those frequencies, they'll be able to hop right on. That will mean better speeds and more capacity, to let more users on board.
"Each Dish 5G site is capable of providing service over 3GPP Band n66 (2180-2200 MHz downlink), Band n29 (722-728 MHz downlink), and Band n70 (1995-2020 MHz downlink), and utilizes Band n71 for downlink and uplink," the report says. The equipment Dish is using is also capable of using band n26, the old Nextel band, but deployment of that one wasn't discussed in this report.