Dish says Project Genesis 5G is available in 100 cities, so we tried signing up

On Tuesday, Dish Network said its “Project Genesis” 5G cellular plan was available to the public in more than 120 US cities after a month of testing in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to an agreement with the government, which you can read here, he had to launch it before June 14. Otherwise, he would face millions in fines.

After tracking Dish’s progress for years, we thought we should order a phone to test the service, which is based on new technology and supposedly offers unlimited calls, texts and data for just $30. per month. (There’s also an interesting gamification and rewards system in the mix.) The task of testing it falls to me given that I live in Spokane, Washington, one of the cities the service is supposed to be rolling out to. But signing up for the service proved to be a difficult task: at every step of the process, we encountered problems, bugs, and unexplainable behavior on the Project Genesis website. We contacted Dish for comment on these issues, but received no response.

The problems started pretty much as soon as I hit launch.genesis5g.com. Upon clicking the “order now” button, I was prompted to enter my email address and home address. But once I did, the site told me I didn’t have a valid address — not that the service wasn’t available to me, but that the address I entered ( correctly, I checked several times) was not the correct one.

It didn’t seem to be limited to my building; My colleagues and I tried entering addresses in several supposedly supported cities, but the site told us they weren’t valid. To be clear, this was not a situation where we were incorrectly forming addresses. (The Project Genesis website suggests addresses to you and allows you to autofill the form using them.) It said that addresses he had provided were not acceptable.

Clicking on the suggested addresses fills them into the field, seemingly accurately. Yet the site would still reject them. (PS: no, that’s not my address; it’s a local park.) And no, I don’t know why it’s listed twice. This seems to be a common bug on the site.

After dozens of attempts to enter my address, I was finally greeted with a screen that said Genesis is live in my area. The site then asked me to choose which device I wanted to order with my service. The choices are a black Samsung Galaxy S22 with 128GB of storage and a wireless hotspot. The phone isn’t full price – it’s only $399 instead of the normal MSRP of $749 – but there also doesn’t seem to be an option to just order a SIM card kit for those who have one. already an S22. According to a support FAQ page “devices are exclusively available from Project Genesis”, which means you can’t bring your own phone even if you’re sure it supports all Project Genesis transmission technologies.

But I had already come this far, and I wasn’t going to let anything small like put $400 online for a new phone I didn’t even need. I selected the S22 and chose the “Project Genesis Smart 5G Unlimited Plan”, the only plan available for smartphones.

Finally I was at the checkout page… and it was broken too. No matter what I tried, there was no way to enter my apartment number. The “Address 2” field looks like you can add information to it (like, say, an apartment or unit number), but clicking on it or trying to tab into it yields no results. The website has the address fields completely locked to the address you provided on the homepage. Of course, if you put a unit number in this field, it does not appear anywhere when you access the payment page. And yes, I tested this on three different browsers to confirm that the issue occurred in all of them.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t fill in the “Address 2” field.

(I went into the web inspector to try to clear the lock, hoping that the stored procedure handling this intake form would just read the data from the field, but the fields are set to read-only in a way that my browser couldn’t change – another great mastermind plan foiled.)

Since apartments, townhouses, and many condos seemed to be off limits, I thought about shipping it to my mom. She lives across the country, but Dish says her service is live in her town and her address is just one line. After trying to enter her address enough times (the verification system was still down), the site accepted her, showing me the message: “Project Genesis is turning on soon in your area!” It’s certainly interesting given that his city appears in the list of “120 plus” places where Genesis lives, but regardless – it was clear that I couldn’t have the phone relayed to me through his house.

Out of ideas, I jokingly texted my wife, Becky, asking if any of her landlord friends would be willing to accept a package for me. Not knowing what ordeal I was in, she asked what I was trying to get shipped that couldn’t be sent to us or her workplace.

HIS WORKPLACE! Becky has stuff shipped there all the time, and it’s a standalone building with no unit number.

Almost holding my breath, I entered his business address on the Genesis website. After thinking for a moment, the system accepted it and I was able to go through the process of selecting a phone and a plan for the millionth time. Finally, I was at the checkout page, with an address that didn’t need any additions. That was it. The final hurdle. I entered my credit card details and pressed the “Join Project Genesis” button.

My Apple Card declined the transaction, saying it was suspicious. “Lol,” I said despondently. “Lmao.”

Email from Apple stating that it had declined Dish's charge.

I can’t really blame you for that one, Apple and Goldman.

Now, to be fair, the form in Project Genesis doesn’t separate the billing and shipping address, so it’s very possible my card flagged it because the address the system was trying to use isn’t not the address I registered it at. Luckily, Apple lets you press a button and say “let it go.” I pressed accept and resubmitted the Project Genesis form.

The transaction has been validated – “you’re in!” said Dish’s website, telling me I’m about to “experience the nation’s first Smart 5G network.” I received an email with my order details (which also indicated that my device might be delivered by hand by one of Dish’s ambassadors, which might be interesting) and another email with a temporary password for the Genesis app so I can log in and “start earning exclusive rewards”.

Reader, this temporary password and the instructions for using it are both invisible: black text on a black background. I really can’t wait to get this phone and start testing this network.

I did not clear the password. This is what the email looks like.