Dish Wireless met a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirement to make its 5G broadband service available to 70 per cent of the US population by 14 June, but questions remain as to whether it will become a viable fourth mobile operator.

In addition to making the service available to more than 240 million people across the US, Dish Wireless also met another FCC commitment by deploying more than 15,000 5G sites.

Recon Analytics founder and lead analyst Roger Entner told Mobile World Live providing 5G-based broadband doesn’t position Dish Wireless as the nation’s fourth mobile operator.

He noted Dish Wireless’ service “was supposed to be a replacement for Sprint”.

On parent Dish Network’s Q1 earnings call, executives stated it was on track to meet the mid-year target and expected to cover the majority of the US population by the year-end.

At the time, Dish Network chair Charlie Ergen stated it would likely pause capex after hitting the 70 per cent goal, with a restart in 2024 as it targets 75 per cent coverage in each of the 416 economic areas the FCC has split the country into by 2025.

Entner stated the 75 per cent goal will be hard to achieve, being potentially signifcantly more expensive than the first target at a time when Dish Wireless is “running out of money”.

The analyst said there are rumours Ergen was seeking funds in the Middle East as US debt markets “are closed” to the company.

Dish Network detailed plans to offer approximately $500 million of its senior secured notes to fund the 5G network in January, part of a plan to raise up to $2 billion.