Dish, which took on the role of fourth US mobile carrier after the T-Mobile and Sprint merger finalized in April 2020, has blown past several deadlines over the years in getting its 5G network up and running. But Dish’s 5G service is finally going live in Las Vegas on Wednesday, and the company has listed over 100 cities that will get covered next.
Dish said last June that Las Vegas would be its first 5G city, though the company expected to launch service in the third quarter of 2021. Dish 5G service costs $30 per month and includes “a white-glove delivery experience,” but currently, the network only officially supports one phone: the latest Motorola Edge Plus. The company tells CNET that some early beta customers have successfully used their Samsung Galaxy S22 phones on the network, and Dish expects to announce more handset support soon.
The launch comes just a month before another deadline set by regulators for Dish to cover 20% of the US population with 5G service, a requirement for the company to prove it can offer service befitting a national wireless carrier. Dish executives acknowledged the delay in 5G rollout during a February earnings call, citing supply chain issues and underestimating how much work it would take to build out their own network. In addition to building its 5G service on OpenRAN, a new type of cellular network per Axios, Dish also shored up its service by paying AT&T $5 billion over the next 10 years to lean on its 5G network.
While the 5G service is live in Las Vegas today, Dish has listed 113 other cities in 22 states that it’s aiming to expand to including major markets like Dallas, Nashville, Kansas City and Orlando. It is unclear, however, when any of these markets will launch and what coverage will look like in those areas. Dish previously reached an agreement with AT&T to allow customers to roam on the latter’s 5G network when coverage on Dish’s service isn’t available.
By the June FCC deadline, Dish says its 5G service will be live in 120 markets across the country.