Vodafone signaled that another of its markets is set to gain 5G services before the end of 2019: Vodafone Ireland confirmed it aims to launch a commercial 5G network in the fourth quarter of this year.
The Irish mobile operator is clearly keen to keep up with its weightier sister companies in the group as 5G preparations start to build up. In terms of recent developments, Vodafone UK also just announced plans to launch commercial 5G in 19 cities this year, while Vodafone Germany is taking part in Germany’s long-awaited 5G spectrum auction after legal efforts by operators to halt the process failed.
As part of its efforts to prepare for its imminent 5G launch, Vodafone Ireland is expanding its 5G test facilities in Dublin that first opened in November 2018. The operator, which is working with Ericsson on the 5G test bed, has now doubled the capacity of the site at Dublin Dockyards to accommodate more businesses that wish to test the next generation of mobile technology. Vodafone and Ericsson also recently partnered with NOVA UCD, a hub for new ventures and entrepreneurs at University College Dublin, to create a 5G accelerator program.
The operator is also under pressure to be first to market with 5G. Local rivals eir and Three Ireland are also both intent on launching 5G services in 2019. Eir recently said it intends to invest about $170 million over the next two years to upgrade its LTE network and prepare it for a 5G launch later this year.
“After the successful conclusion of an equipment RFP process for the update of its mobile network investment last year, eir appointed Ericsson as its strategic partner for the core network and Huawei to provide the radio access network equipment,” an eir spokesperson told SDxCentral. “We will launch 5G services in the Irish cities in the second half of 2019.”
Three Ireland was also rumored to have moved over to Huawei, dropping previous technology partners Nokia and Samsung in the process. However, the operator wouldn’t reveal the identity of its 5G vendor. A spokesperson told SDxCentral in an email that Three Ireland is “still in negotiations regarding our network provider so that information is commercially sensitive. We will commence the rollout of 5G later this year with trials commencing in the coming months.”
Huawei is apparently involved in the new 5G fixed wireless access network being rolled out by Imagine, which aims to provide 5G-based fixed broadband services at 150 Mbps speeds in underserved parts of Ireland. The wireless broadband provider, which is now 50.1 percent owned by Canada-based investment firm Brookfield Asset Management, is investing about $340 million in the network and ultimately aims to cover 1 million premises.