Where Dish Network is going in 5G, and how it will get there

Dish Network is set to join AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in operating a 5G network. Here are the executives, vendors and government-mandated timeline it's using.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

November 9, 2020

3 Min Read
Where Dish Network is going in 5G, and how it will get there

Dish Network has promised to become the fourth nationwide wireless network operator in the US.

But how, and when, will it do that?

First, over the course of last year and early this year, the company assembled its network team: Stephen Bye, Tom Cullen, Dave Mayo, Jeff McSchooler and Marc Rouanne. Rouanne is in charge of designing Dish's network, Mayo and McSchooler are in charge of building it, Bye is in charge of selling it, and Cullen has been overseeing it all since 2006.

In recent months, Dish has begun assembling its vendors. Although the company likely will name additional vendors – including cloud computing providers and cell tower operators – over the next few months, here's where things stand now:

Network element

Vendors

RAN hardware

Fujitsu

RAN management software

Altiostar, Mavenir

RAN silicon and software architecture

Intel

Core

Nokia

Cloud orchestration

VMware

MVNO enablement

Tucows

Network intelligence and automation

Ciena's Blue Planet

OSS/BSS

MATRIXX Software, Hansen Technologies

Usage data platform

DigitalRoute

Finally, Dish has said it expects to begin its 5G network buildout in earnest – physically installing radios atop towers – in the second quarter of next year. The company has said the effort will cost around $10 billion.

Dish has already activated its first 5G cell site, in Littleton, Colorado, where the company's wireless networking business is based.

Dish is required to construct a 5G network in the US based on its 2019 agreement with T-Mobile and the US Department of Justice. That agreement included a number of specific coverage goals.

However, on September 11 the FCC issued an order that modified and extended Dish's spectrum buildout deadlines. The company still must cover 20% of the US population by June 14, 2022, using most of its spectrum licenses, but if it reaches 50% coverage by June 14, 2023, then some of its broader coverage goals can be pushed out by a few years.

Figure 1: Dish's new 5G coverage targets - listed by the geographic EA (Economic Area) and PEA (Partial Economic Area) breakdowns of its spectrum licenses - vary based on the type of spectrum it will use. Click here for a larger version of this image. (Source: Raymond James) Dish's new 5G coverage targets – listed by the geographic EA (Economic Area) and PEA (Partial Economic Area) breakdowns of its spectrum licenses – vary based on the type of spectrum it will use. Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Raymond James)

If Dish fails to meet its coverage goals, it could lose its spectrum licenses and pay up to $2.2 billion in penalties.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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