I went to the Genesis 5G Dish Network outlet and got nothing but disappointment

The moment I’ve been waiting for for the past few months finally arrived on a bus ride through Las Vegas.

I’ve been testing Dish’s new 5G network — one that’s designed to do just that turn the company into the fourth largest wireless carrier in the US — with very average results. But those trials were in Spokane, Washington; now I was finally in the city where it all started and where the network was most mature. And at that moment on the bus, I found what I was sent to Vegas to look for: proof that Dish’s service might actually be competitive someday, in the form of a speed test showing download speeds of 236Mbps with a respectable 41ms ping .

I excitedly typed out a message to my colleagues on Slack: “Everyone. I finally found the 5G cloud,” proudly showing off a screenshot of my speed test result like a parent discovering their child can do art.

I didn’t get to know how they reacted, because when the bus passed Guy Fieri’s kitchen and bar in Vegas, my internet stopped working completely.

Screenshot of test results for 236 Mbps download speed and 12.2 Mbps upload speed.

Screenshot worthy of a place on the refrigerator door.

I’m worried I won’t be able to fully portray my frustration at that moment, but if I’m going to try, we need a little reinforcement.

Project Genesis, the cellular network I tested, is basically Dish’s testing ground for the nationwide cellular network it’s required by law to build thanks to the 2020 merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. As part of this merger, A dish bought Boost Mobile and access to some spectrum that T-Mobile received as part of the deal, and this agreed to build a nationwide wireless network so that there is competition in the market. Project Genesis in June went to live in more than 120 cities after about a year testing and networking in Las Vegas.

Genesis is available in… an odd mixture locations, one of which is Spokane, Washington. Since I just happen to live there, I’ve been tasked with covering it and checking how the services are doing from time to time – and so far the results have been very disappointing. The network is still feels like a beta version with no mind-blowing performance to make up for the hiccups.

I always felt like I wasn’t getting the full Genesis experience

All of these impressions, however, are based on my experience with him in Spokane. But — and I promise I say this with love — almost everything here is a little worse than other places. (Don’t @ me if you don’t want to hear a long rant about how we don’t have museums, about the difficulty of reloading my bus card or local ecopolitics.)

I’ve always thought that perhaps the real benefits of what Dish describes as “the nation’s first Smart 5G cloud network” might be evident elsewhere, especially Las Vegas, where it’s theoretically at its most advanced. Vegas has more than a hundred Dish Towers, compared to about 15 in Spokane, according to CellMapper’s crowdsourced data. (Though, as far as I can tell, I’m literally the only person in Spokane who contributed to the map, so it’s possible there are a few more). In theory, this should mean a lot more coverage, better speeds, and all the other benefits that come from having a much more developed network.

Is the idea of ​​Vegas as a Genesis utopia just completely in my head? Maybe a little. I’ve heard from several people that they’ve had really good experiences there, and Vegas continues to be Dish’s testing ground for new technology. This includes an experimental 5G voice technology known as VoNR, which is supposed to be the next-generation version of Voice Over LTE, as well as the deployment of the n66 cellular spectrum band, which now appears to be defunct, according to CellMapper. Band 66 combines other pieces of spectrum that Dish owns, which the company says should lead to “increased data throughput.”

But Dish never offered Vegas as a showcase for its technology. So it was totally a joke that I showed my colleagues Reddit comment talking about how the net was more polished in vegas and said my next check in would be to have include a trip to Nevada. “There’s just no other way,” I typed, smiling to myself at my little joke.

And then my boss took me seriously.

A screenshot of two Slack messages from Alex Krantz with the caption “Mitchell AMD is holding an event for its new GPU in November.  If you want to go and do Genesis too…

Never joke.

This is how I ended up at the Las Vegas airport trying to get my Genesis phone hotspot working and fighting the urge to panic because I was just beginning to realize that I had signed up to cover my first private message and had no idea what I was doing. The sluggish hotspot performance on my phone—a Galaxy S22, one of two phones currently supported by Dish—didn’t help much either. Web pages would take forever to load and Slack wouldn’t work at all for some reason.

This is good, I thought. Since I wasn’t actually looking at a map, I figured the airport was relatively far from downtown where all the towers would be (fact check: it mostly right on the lane), and 5G tends to stick around airports anyway surprisingly interesting reasons. Things will get better when I get to Vegas, I told myself.

And they did! On the bus ride to my hotel, my phone was perfectly usable, allowing me to send photos with (supposedly) clever captions to my coworkers, friends, and wife because I clearly didn’t properly understand the dangers of the joke. And for the next day or so, there was nothing noteworthy to say about my phone; I didn’t think about it – it just worked the way you’d expect a phone to work.

Download speeds were generally in the 20-40 Mbps range, and my service only dropped out once when I got into an elevator—something I’d also expect from my personal phone on the Verizon network. Of course, this kind of performance didn’t surprise me, but if the future is about competent technology, I think I can live with it.

However, I can’t speak to how Dish’s new voice technology is going because I didn’t have the wrong phone — despite owning one of the two supported by the carrier (and the only phone that was available at the time time sign up for service with a Spokane address). The only phone that can use Dish’s VoNR technology is the Motorola Edge Plus, according to Meredith Dyers, a spokeswoman for the company. Other Vegas phone calls go through Dish’s “partner network,” meaning AT&T or T-Mobile.

A screenshot of comments on a Reddit post titled

How can I enjoy dunks if they don’t load? Note the full 5G bands, by the way.

My blissful boredom with Project Genesis: Vegas Edition ended that evening during a long wait for a late bus near the Medical District. I went through my very healthy nightly routine of hopping between Reddit to find funny or cute cat pictures to send to my wife and Twitter to read about like Twitter is totally falling apart — when suddenly my data slowed to a crawl.

At first, the comments did not load. Then pictures. And then I stopped messaging. What I’m trying to say is that my phone almost completely stopped working, although somehow Google Maps managed to hang on. Finally my bus arrived and started taking me and maybe one or two other people to our destinations.

Mere mortals were not meant to endure nighttime public transport rides without distraction, especially after a very long day write about video cards. I stared out the window at the moonlit suburbs, wondering what exactly I was doing. Why did I think using this cellular network in Vegas would be better than at home? Why did I volunteer to tell two separate stories on one trip? Does anyone else feel the same sense of frustration with buggy, pushy, and overhyped tech as I do?

The meal committed the greatest sin: it left me alone with my thoughts

I wanted nothing more than to wear “Cold Desert” by Kings of Leon to fully enjoy the atmosphere, but my Project Genesis phone couldn’t handle streaming music. Also, my cat chewed through my headphone cables before I left.

Fortunately, just as I was on the verge of starting to process my emotions sensibly, my phone buzzed to let me know that several Telegram messages had arrived. I was back online baby and able to bury my thoughts in petty drama again. I also noticed that Google Maps showed a Denny’s near my destination, causing me to further dull my last functioning brain cell into submission to the massive sugar rush induced by some pancakes. For now, I’ve completely forgotten about my workload trying to figure out the nascent 5G network.

The next day it’s time to leave Vegas, which brings us back to the double-decker tour bus on the strip. Instead of looking out the window and squinting at a replica of the Eiffel Tower through a transparent advertising graphic, I poked at my phone, trying to return the service it had completely refused. I even threw away advanced troubleshooting skills from years of tech support…and by that I mean I turned on airplane mode and then when that didn’t work I restarted the phone.

A screenshot of Google Maps with the error message “Unable to connect to Maps.  Please try again in a few minutes.

When Maps stop working, it means things have gone wrong. Again: five bands of 5G.

Both steps have been successful on the few occasions that such a network outage has occurred at home, but they failed for me that day. I reluctantly dug out my daily iPhone driver (which also runs on a slightly unstable cloud network) from my backpack so I could make sure I didn’t miss a stop.

I don’t expect perfection from Dish Network, especially this early in its life. Sure, the company is touting it as “first of its kind” and groundbreaking, promising it will “change the way we connect,” but what carrier hasn’t made eye-popping claims about its 5G? At the end of the day, the Dish network only needs two things: to reach enough people that the FCC won’t sue it, and to keep it running at the same speeds as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

And frankly, it’s getting surprisingly close to an acceptable level of suction! When everything is working fine, it’s exactly like using my regular phone. But every now and then the bottom falls out, and I remind you that my service is provided by a company that simply met his first FCC term and is considering brand sale he said he would use it to promote this network extensively. And when it happened to me not once, but twice in the city where the chain really took off, I finally realized I couldn’t believe the hype.

By the time we got to the “Welcome to Vegas” sign, my phone had sorted itself out and was back online. But it was too late; my dream was completely shattered, and not even Creed’s “My Sacrifice,” inexplicably blasting as tourists lined up to take pictures at the entrance to the city, could cheer me up. At least I was able to get me back to the airport so I could fly home and continue with pretty much the same cellular experience.

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