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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:

Table 1: Dish's 5G vendors

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.

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.

Related posts:

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

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