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Dish says it launched 5G service the day before it faces millions of dollars in fines


Today’s the day: Dish Network needs to offer 5G service to at least 20 percent of the US population or face some steep fines from the US government. And lo and behold, Dish appears to be lighting up its 5G service in the nick of time — but there’s an awful lot still up in the air.


The company’s website for Project Genesis (that’s what it’s calling this whole endeavor) has been updated to state that it’s “live in 120 cities” with a link to “order now.” Until very recently, the website only listed the 120 initial cities that the service would cover outside of its first test market in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it looked uncertain that Dish would make its deadline.


It’s still not entirely clear that Dish has met the requirements. Dish has yet to formally announce the service’s launch, and the company hasn’t responded to our request for more information. If the service doesn’t cover enough of the US population today, Dish faces fines starting at $16 million and increasing for every wireless band that isn’t deployed, per its agreement with the Federal Communications Commission.


Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said in May that the company wouldn’t need an extension. “We’re just going to get it done,” he told investors.


Filling in the site’s form with an address in Spokane, Washington, one of the 120 cities where the service is supported, reveals a splash page proclaiming “Project Genesis is live in your area!” with some additional details. The wireless service plan pricing — $30 per month for unlimited talk, text, and 5G — was previously announced. There’s also a $20 per month data-only hotspot plan. Likewise, clicking through to sign up prompts you to choose between two devices: a Samsung Galaxy S22 or a hotspot.


While it appears to be a true commercial launch, there’s still a whiff of beta testing about the program. Among the basic plan features, there’s also mention of “exclusive rewards,” including NFTs — something that Dish previously mentioned it would use to encourage members to help “fine-tune” its network. The company also promises “fast delivery” and an easy onboarding process, which the website’s FAQ page reveals to mean UPS ground shipping.


You can head to the Project Genesis website to see if your address qualifies for Dish’s 5G service. If it does, let’s hope that you like the Galaxy S22 because you can’t bring your own device to the network right now.


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