Today, Three Ireland has announced the switching on of its 5G networkacross the nation.
Around 315 base stations have been deployed so far, giving a totalcoverage of around 35% of the Irish population. Around 500 more are expected tobe deployed by the end of 2020, with Three having invested around €100 millionin the rollout over the last year and expecting to spend the same again for thenext few years to enhance coverage. Naturally, major areas initially coveredinclude urban hubs, like Dublin and Cork, but some rural areas are alsoincluded.
“What we expect is by the end of next year we will be well in excess of50 per cent population coverage and growing," said Three Ireland's CTO DavidHennessy. “This is about actually having a very substantive proposition outthere for our customers and very substantive service."
Three is the last of Ireland's three major mobile operators to launch5G, with Vodafone Ireland doing so in September 2019 and Eir following suitjust one month later. Three's 5G launch was initially scheduled for a similardate but was delayed, primarily due to a switch from Huawei to Ericssonequipment at a late stage in the technology's deployment.
Lagging behind by around one year, one would think that Three will havemuch catching up to do when it comes to the next-generation mobile technology,but the company in fact claims that its initial launch is larger than itsrivals' current deployments.
Three's 5G uptake should also receive something of a boost from therelease of the new 5G Apple iPhone, expected to hit the market in a few weekstime.
When it comes to accessibility, Three's customers on more expensiveplans will have access to 5G for free – assuming they have a compatible device.However, lower-priced plans, including pre-paid, will also be able to access 5Gfor a €5 supplementary charge.
“Connectivity is vital to our everyday lives, so we wanted to be thefirst in the country to offer prepay customers as well as bill pay customers a5G experience. 5G is transforming how we connect, work, are entertained and howwe live our lives," said CEO Robert Finnegan. “Having seen what 5G can do and the latency it provides, I am excited tosee the economic developments and opportunities this brings to Ireland as westrive to compete in a global environment where connectivity is crucial."