Dish Network may finally be on its way to competing with the big three national carriers in 5G.
The satellite TV company updated its Project Genesis website to state that 5G service is now available in more than 120 cities, claiming nationwide coverage ahead of a Federal Communications Commission deadline to reach at least one-fifth of the country's population.
The announcement, an unexpected turnaround from earlier in the morning, could indicate that the company is now becoming serious about the cellular sector.
Dish spent years acquiring wireless spectrum, yet little of a wireless network developed. Then, in 2020, Dish entered the mobile market by acquiring some of Sprint's mobile licenses, which were being shed as part of Sprint's merger with T-Mobile.
The complicated deal made Dish the country's fourth-largest carrier and paved the way for the launch of Dish Wireless.
However, the FCC had a condition. To maintain competition, the regulatory agency ordered Dish to ensure that its 5G network would reach 20% of Americans by June 14. In a statement released on Wednesday, the business stated that the expansion exceeds that barrier.
The service's "beta list" is only available via invitation, and the company has remained tight-lipped about how many people will be able to access it.
Dish-owned Boost Mobile CEO Stephen Stokols tweeted that 5G service is now available in 120 markets and linked to the Project Genesis website. When contacted for comment, the FCC noted that Dish is obligated to provide status reports with the agency, the first of which is due on July 14.
"Consumers benefit when there is more competition in our wireless industry," an FCC spokesperson told CNET. "We are closely monitoring DISH's 5G build out to ensure that they are meeting all of their requirements in the law."
Dish has been stymied by a slew of challenges. During an earnings call earlier this year, the business admitted that it overestimated the amount of work required to get its own 5G network up and running. Supply chain concerns exacerbated the problem.
The day before the deadline, Dish updated its Project Genesis website to indicate that its 5G network has reached over 120 cities. However, we don't know how many people in those places are served by the network, or whether Dish has fulfilled its objective of reaching 20% of the U.S. population by June 14.
Failure to meet the deadline could result in Dish's wireless spectrum license being withdrawn and fines of up to $2.2 billion, according to the FCC's regulations, the Light Reading news site reported earlier this year.