DISH Wireless, the mobile network operating unit of DISH Network (NASDAQ: DISH), has satisfied its June 14, 2023 FCC commitment to build out its network. It now offers 5G broadband service (compliant with 3GPP Rel 15 enhanced mobile broadband) to over 70 percent of the U.S. population, roughly 240 million people. In the process, DISH launched over 15,000 5G sites. The company points out that meeting this deadline is a major milestone for DISH and the U.S. telecom industry, having designed, built and deployed a first-of-its-kind 5G cloud-native Open RAN network in three years.
Recall that DISH received approval from the FCC to build a fourth 5G network but with population coverage stipulations – 20 percent by June 14, 2022, 70 percent by June 14, 2023, and 75 percent of partial economic areas by June 14, 2025, Inside Towers reported. Having reached this point, DISH now has two years to build out the other five percent that will extend beyond the current 50 metro markets where it has deployed and into Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets. To reach the 70 percent coverage marker, DISH is utilizing a combination of low-band (600 MHz, Lower 700 MHz) and mid-band (Band 70, AWS-1) spectrum. Unique to DISH, Band 70 is an FCC-approved amalgam of DISH’s AWS-4, Lower 700 MHz E Block, and AWS H Block spectrum holdings.
“Our teams have worked tirelessly for years, and this achievement is a testament to their dedication and commitment as we grow the world’s first and only 5G cloud-native Open RAN network,” says Dave Mayo, EVP-Network Development, DISH Wireless. “We appreciate the continued support and efforts of our partners as DISH continues to lead the industry in Open RAN deployment.”
DISH claims it is the first U.S. MNO to launch 5G voice service, dubbed ‘voice over new radio’ or VoNR. Since going live in Las Vegas last year, DISH steadily expanded VoNR functionality to additional markets, and now covers more than 70 million people. VoNR is available on both Boost Mobile prepaid and Boost Infinite postpaid service. DISH will roll out VoNR in new markets as the network is optimized.
“As a leader in Open RAN technology, DISH is playing a major role in the transformation of America’s wireless infrastructure and the way the world communicates,” comments John Swieringa, DISH Wireless President and COO. “We have made significant progress on our network buildout and can now focus on monetizing the network through retail and enterprise growth. With more markets across the country offering the DISH 5G network for voice, text and data services, our business can start realizing the benefits of owner economics.”
As Mayo commented in his Connect(X) fireside chat, that monetization will come from adding more postpaid subscribers, both by converting Boost Mobile prepaid customers to postpaid, and attracting new customers with its Boost Infinite postpaid plans, Inside Towers reported.
Boost Mobile is an MVNO that uses both T-Mobile and AT&T networks. Moving Boost Mobile subscribers to postpaid plans is more profitable for DISH. Customers can access the DISH 5G broadband network through Project Genesis, a program that captures retail customer input on network performance. It is available to anyone in a qualifying location within the 70 percent coverage area.
Project Genesis subscribers can use the Motorola Edge+ 2023 smartphone equipped with three carrier aggregation that supports DISH’s multiple frequency bands. Apple iPhone 14 and Samsung Galaxy S23 smartphones are also available on Boost Infinite plans.
Boost Mobile and Boost Infinite subscribers who own or purchase a network-compatible device can access its network in 50 markets nationwide today. The company says it will continue expanding Boost Mobile and Boost Infinite markets, along with DISH 5G network compatible devices, throughout the year.
DISH expects to file its FCC buildout report no later than July 14, 2023.
By John Celentano, Inside Towers Business Editor