Dish Network says it is now offering its fifth-generation (5G) wireless phone and broadband service to 70 percent of the American population, a claim that comes with a very big caveat.
The announcement was made in a press release issued by Dish executives late last week, in which the company said the build-out met a key deadline imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) when it acquired the Boost Mobile brand from Sprint several years ago.
“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 [Radio Access Network, or RAN],” Dave Mayo, the executive vice president of network development at Dish, said in a statement. “We appreciate the continued support and efforts of our partners as DISH continues to lead the industry in Open RAN deployment.”
Dish claims it has more than 15,000 5G transmission sites blanketing vast parts of the country with super-fast, cloud-native wireless broadband data. In doing so, the company says it reaches more than 240 million Americans.
But that doesn’t mean those 240 million Americans can simply leave their own carrier for Dish, because the company’s wireless provider, Project Genesis, is only compatible with two phones: The Motorola Edge Plus and the Samsung Galaxy 22. Both phones unlock the full capabilities of Project Genesis, including voice over 5G, or VoNR.
For the moment, Dish isn’t allowing customers to bring their own devices to Project Genesis, which locks out many who prefer to use something other than a Samsung Galaxy or Motorola phone, including Apple iPhones. Some customers who have physical Project Genesis say installing their SIM cards in non-supported devices connects them to AT&T, which is used as a fallback network for areas not covered by Project Genesis.
Dish operates three other brands — Boost Mobile, Boost Infinite and GenMobile — which also offer 5G service. Boost Mobile and Boost Infinite are available on 50 major metropolitan areas — far less than the 70 percent of the country Dish claims to support. GenMoble offers the same network access as Boost Mobile, but is geared toward older customers who use less data; it requires a $39 activation fee.
Dish says more devices compatible with its 5G network will roll out later this year.