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open RAN

Dish's first 5G service plan underwhelms

Dish Network began offering commercial services Wednesday on its new open RAN 5G network in Las Vegas, according to several new reports. The company is charging $30 per month for unlimited services.

Some analysts were unimpressed with the pricing, to put it mildly.

"I came excited and left disappointed," said analyst Roger Entner with Recon Analytics. He said Rakuten in Japan launched its own open RAN network by offering 1 GB of data free alongside very inexpensive pricing. He suggested that Dish should have employed a similarly innovative pricing model instead of one that's just slightly below what most US operators already charge.

Indeed, MVNO Mint Mobile also charges $30 for unlimited service, and most operators typically start their pricing at $40 or $50 per month for unlimited service.

Analyst John Byrne, of research and consulting firm GlobalData, agreed with Entner. "Meh," he said about the pricing plan.

"The network may be 'live' but they seem more focused on hitting their deployment deadlines than actually having customers on their network," Byrne added, noting that Dish is required to cover 20% of the US population with 5G by June 14.

Dish has installed a number of cell towers around the country. (Source: Dish)
Dish has installed a number of cell towers around the country.
(Source: Dish)

Dish has been teasing its commercial 5G service through its Project Genesis website, which Byrne described as "not yet fully baked."

"I looked for the Project Genesis app in the Android store and all I found was a bible study app," he wrote. "Maybe you're supposed to enter your prayer for the Dish network to come to your neighborhood."

"Bad," Wave7 Research analyst Jeff Moore wrote in response to questions about Dish's $30 per month pricing. He added that his "eyes rolled" when he found out that Dish is currently only selling one phone for its network, the Motorola Edge+, for around $900.

Other analysts took a slightly more positive stance.

"I think the pricing is good," wrote analyst Anshel Sag with research and consulting firm Moor Insights & Strategy. "It's been so long since we've seen a truly new network so I think we should all cut them some slack on new deployments and device availability."

Analyst Avi Greengart with Techsponential wrote that Dish's service pricing "is certainly aggressive, but then it has to be: from a consumer's perspective, Dish is basically a new MVNO being sold in a single city. The problem is that other wireless challenger brands not only offer inexpensive service plans, but also a variety of phones that start at much, much lower price points than the $900 Motorola Edge+."

Dish will likely disclose more of its plans during its quarterly earnings call Friday and its investor event in Las Vegas next week.

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

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