Dish starts taking signups for its 5G network

Dish
Dish has stopped activations of new phones on the Sprint CDMA network as of June 1. (Dish)

Dish has set up a website to start taking signups for its new 5G network. The website, dubbed Project Genesis, lets people input their emails to get notified when Dish’s service is available in their areas.

The Project Genesis website is sparse and vague. A Dish spokesperson confirmed that the site was developed by Dish to enable people to sign up for the company's forthcoming consumer 5G service.

Obviously, the company would like to start gathering contact information from potential 5G customers. But at this point, it’s doubtful anyone, other than trade media, will even know of the website’s existence.

Asked why Dish would set up this website, Wave7 Research principal Jeff Moore said, “I think that Dish is seeing every day as a new day for them to learn about wireless in general.”

So far, Dish has only announced its initial 5G city — Las Vegas — where it plans to launch later this year.

RELATED: Dish to launch 5G network in Las Vegas this year

Boost Mobile

While Dish is trying to work swiftly on its greenfield 5G network, the company currently is serving wireless customers through its Boost Mobile brand, which it acquired as part of the deal for T-Mobile and Sprint to merge. Boost is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service that rides on T-Mobile’s network. The MVNO has about 8.8 million subscribers, and it’s been losing subs at a steady clip the last couple of quarters.

T-Mobile is making things even harder for Dish/Boost. T-Mobile has announced that it plans to decommission Sprint’s 3G CDMA network at the end of this year. That means that a percentage of Boost Mobile subscribers may lose their service unless they quickly upgrade to 4G devices. This has caused a heated dispute between Dish and T-Mobile.

RELATED: Dish’s Ergen sees T-Mobile as magenta Grinch

Dish has reached out to regulators and is hopeful that T-Mobile will delay the CDMA shutdown. Dish says even if it were able to get several million new phones to distribute to Boost customers, it still couldn’t distribute all of them by year end because it doesn’t always have customers’ contact information.

According to a source of Wave7 Research, about 1-2 million Boost customers have phones that could operate on the T-Mobile network, but are still operating on the Sprint network.  Wave7’s source said Boost dealers have a goal to covert 5,000 customers per day from Sprint's CDMA network to T-Mobile’s network, but the number being achieved is closer to 3,300 per day.

Boost has an offer of a free SIM card for customers on the CDMA network who have a phone that could operate on T-Mobile’s network.

Dish also stopped activations of new phones on the Sprint network as of June 1.

Boost has also been clearing its stores of devices that work only on the Sprint network, according to Wave7 Research’s new Prepaid report. Among these are the LG Tribute Empire/Royal, the LG G6, the Galaxy A6 and the Galaxy A20. Other end-of-life devices are the iPhone XS and 256GB variants of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

Boost has done minimal advertising of late, according to Wave7's report. It has not done any TV advertising since mid April. And its radio, online and billboard advertising is also sparse.

Boost seems to be simultaneously cutting costs while increasing revenues, a necessity for Dish, which needs all the capital it can get to build its new 5G network.

Dish recently announced a partnership with the online gambling company DraftKings, which may help it increase revenues. Boost subscribers in states that have legalized sports betting who sign up with DraftKings will get a $50 credit after they deposit $5 and place a bet.

RELATED: Boost Mobile bets on DraftKings as a partner

Moore said that he expects Boost to increase its revenues in other ways soon. Those strategies may include making taxes and fees extra on Boost plans and incentivizing customers to autopay via a $5 discount.
 
In terms of the taxes and fees, Moore said, “I think they’ll be quiet about that. It will be a line-item in the fine print. I think this is a step toward trying to make money.”