Tue. May 21st, 2024

Dish has been slowly building its own 5G network in the United States, becoming a new fourth major carrier alongside AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. That work has now reached a major milestone: the network is complete enough for the FCC’s definition of “nationwide” in the US.

EchoStar Corporation, which recently completed its merger with Dish Network (the two companies used to be one company until 2008), announced that its 5G cell network now “provides download speeds of 35 Mbps or greater to over 70 percent of the U.S. population.” That’s the rollout that EchoStar promised in agreements previously made with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), fulfilling the company’s final deployment commitments to the FCC. EchoStar’s 5G network is now a certified nationwide 5G network, based on a drive test conducted “using an FCC-approved methodology and overseen by an independent monitor.”

T-Mobile and Sprint merged to become one company in 2020, and one of the conditions for the merger was selling wireless spectrum to EchoStar (which was called Dish Network at the time), and EchoStar agreeing to use that spectrum to create its own wireless network. The idea was that EchoStar would create a new fourth major network in the US, replacing Sprint’s position in the US market. The deal required EchoStar to reach certain milestones on a timeline set by the FCC or face significant fines.

EchoStar’s network rollout has been slow, initially appearing as “Project Genesis” in 2022 in a handful of cities. More recently, the network has rolled out to customers on Boost Mobile (also owned by EchoStar), alongside the existing AT&T and T-Mobile cell coverage. Presumably, EchoStar’s own network will become the main network used across all its carrier subsidiaries—Boost Mobile, Ting, and Gen Mobile—but there’s no telling when that will be ready.

It’s great to see a real competitor to T-Mobile, AT&T, and T-Mobile take shape, but EchoStar still has some work ahead. The one easy part is that EchoStar doesn’t have the same legacy infrastructure as the other carriers. While T-Mobile is still struggling to turn off its 2G network because some devices can’t migrate to 5G or LTE, EchoStar’s network has used 5G from the start, and now uses VoNR (calls over 5G) extensively.

Source: Dish

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By John P.

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