Project Genesis, the cell network I’ve been testing, is basically Dish’s testing ground for the nationwide cell network it’s legally required to build out thanks to T-Mobile’s 2020 merger with Sprint. As part of that merger,Dish bought Boost Mobile and access to some spectrum that T-Mobile received as part of the deal, anditagreed to build out a nationwide wireless network to ensure the market had competition. In June, Project Genesis went live in over 120 cities after about a year of testing and building out the network in Las Vegas.
Genesis is available in an… odd mix of places, with Spokane, Washington, being one of them. Because I just happen to live there, I’ve been assigned to cover it and occasionally check in to see how the service is doing — and so far, the results have been pretty disappointing. The network still feels like a beta without providing any sort of mind-blowing performance to compensate for the hiccups.
All of those impressions, though, are based on my experience with it in Spokane. But — and I promise I say this with love — almost everything here is just a liiiittle worse than it is elsewhere. (Don’t @ me unless you want to hear a long-winded rant about our lack of museums, the difficulty of reloading my bus card, or local ecopolitics.)
I’ve always thought that maybe the real benefits of what Dish describes as “the nation’s first cloud-native Smart 5G network” might be obvious elsewhere, especially in Las Vegas, where it’s theoretically at its most mature. There are over a hundred Dish towers in Vegas, compared to around 15 in Spokane, according to crowdsourced CellMapper data. (Though, as far as I can tell, I’m literally the only person in Spokane contributing to the map, so it’s possible there are a few more than that). In theory, that should mean way more coverage, better speeds, and all the other benefits that come with just having a network that’s significantly more developed.
Is the idea of Vegas as a Genesis utopia just totally in my head? Maybe a bit. I’ve heard from a few individuals that they’ve had really good experiences there, and Vegas continues to be Dish’s testbed for new technologies. That includes the experimental 5G voice tech — known as VoNR — that’s meant to be a next-gen version of Voice Over LTE, and the deployment of a cellular spectrum band, n66, that it doesn’t currently appear to be using anywhere else, according to CellMapper. Band 66 aggregates other pieces of spectrum that Dish owns, which the company says should lead to “increased data throughput.”
But Dish has never outright pitched Vegas as a showcase for its tech. So it was fully in jest that I showed my co-workers a Reddit comment talking about how the network was more polished in Vegas and said that my next check-in would have to involve a trip to Nevada. “There’s just no other way,” I typed, smiling to myself at my little joke.
And then my boss actually took me seriously.