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Dish says it will launch wireless 5G service in beta at the end of September

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The 90-day beta is the first step in Dish’s much-anticipated network deployment

Dish aims to cover 70% of the US population by mid-2023 with wireless service.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

On an earnings call today, Dish Network execs said that its Las Vegas 5G wireless service is in the final phase of construction and will launch in beta by the end of September. That keeps it just in line with the Q3 deployment goal it gave earlier this year.

The beta launch is an important first step toward its commitment to covering 70 percent of the US population by June 2023, a target that’s looking more ambitious by the day as the company continues to lose wireless customers. It lost 161,000 subscribers in Q1 of this year, and it just reported a net loss of 201,000 wireless subscribers in Q2. The company stands to lose even more of its remaining 8.9 million wireless subscribers as T-Mobile has unveiled a generous promotion aimed at the very customers it was required to sell to Dish as part of the Sprint merger deal.

Dish says the Vegas beta will last a minimum of 90 days, during which it plans to gather customer feedback and troubleshoot issues as its technology transitions from the lab to the real world — chairman Charlie Ergen acknowledges that the network won’t work perfectly at first.

Dish also recently signed an agreement with AT&T, on which it will rely for the majority of its service as a wireless service reseller (MVNO) while it goes about building its own network. On today’s call, Dish clarified the role that its new partner will play in the beta launch. It says that the majority of network use in its Las Vegas launch will be on its own network, with AT&T and existing partner T-Mobile’s networks providing some roaming support.

Curious to try it out yourself? Anyone interested in testing out the network as part of the beta program can sign up for more information through Dish’s Project Genesis website.