Dish Loses Mobile Subscribers, Says 5G Network Will Soon Be Expansive

Dish says it’s confident its 5G network will cover a fifth of the US by the middle of next month, even though it launched just this Wednesday and is available in one city.

Better known for its satellite TV services, Dish made the rosy forecast on Friday in its first-quarter earnings report. The prediction was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise ugly report. 

The company lost 343,000 net phone subscribers in the quarter, more than double the 161,000 subscribers who departed in the same period a year earlier. The company attributed the loss of subscribers in part to the shutdown of its CDMA network. At the moment, Dish has 8.2 million phone subscribers left.

The carrier’s Pay TV segment fared worse, losing 462,000 net subscribers, over twice the 230,000 lost in the first quarter last year. 

Dish, which became the country’s fourth mobile carrier as a by-product of the T-Mobile and Sprint merger two years ago, has pinned its future on 5G. The company currently delivers the high-speed service in Las Vegas and promises to roll it out in 113 other cities by June 14. It’s unclear which cities will get the service first and will be active by the deadline.

When the service is live in their area, people can sign up through Project Genesis, the name of the carrier’s early-access program. Customers get a Motorola Edge Plus — the only phone cleared for the network — at a promotional price of $30 a month. Some customers have reportedly been able to use Samsung Galaxy S22 devices on Dish’s 5G network, but the company hasn’t cleared those devices for use.

During a call to discuss earnings, Dish executives declined to elaborate on future rates or wireless service details beyond Project Genesis.

Dish Network reported revenue of $433 million in the first quarter, down 31% from the $630 million reported a year earlier. 

The company posted 68 cents in earnings per share, missing the 75 cents per share analyst forecast, according to Yahoo Finance. The company reported 99 cents earnings per share in the same quarter last year.

Shares of Dish fell 19% to $22.17.

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