Three switches on Irish 5G network with 35pc population coverage

28 Sep 2020

Image: © Sundry Photography/

Three Ireland is the last major network in the country to offer 5G connectivity, promising greater availability than its rivals.

Three has switched on its 5G network across Ireland today (28 September), with a population coverage of 35pc. In early 2021, the telecoms firm plans to install new sites to boost coverage nationally.

The network is the first in the country to offer 5G to prepay customers in addition to bill pay and business customers. Prepay customers on selected plans will have access to a €5 5G add-on. For bill pay customers, some plans will have 5G included while others will have the option of a €5 5G add-on.

Commenting on the launch, Three Ireland and Three UK CEO Robert Finnegan said: “We started our 5G roll-out with Ericsson last year, building our network to bring customers in both rural and urban areas the best possible experience of 5G from the very beginning, which includes providing superfast broadband to remote areas in Ireland.

“With our nationwide 5G footprint now in place and a variety of 5G-enabled devices on the market, we believe now is the right time to launch.”

Three Ireland CTO David Hennessy said that the company’s 5G infrastructure includes 315 sites across the country, with expectations that this will increase by a further 500 next year. By accessing next-generation 5G tech, users can expect download speeds of up to 1Gbps.

Unknown outage

Compatible phones on the Three network are limited so far, but include the Samsung S20 Ultra, Samsung S20 Plus, Samsung S20 5G, Huawei Mate Xs 5G and Huawei P40 Pro 5G. The iPhone 12, set to revealed next month, is also expected to include 5G compatibility.

Finnegan added: “Having seen what 5G can do and the latency it provides, I am excited to see the economic developments and opportunities this brings to Ireland as we strive to compete in a global environment where connectivity is crucial.”

Last December, Three said it was delaying its 5G roll-out as there was “no demand” at the time, citing its preference for launching in 2020 with a “substantial footprint”. Three is the last major network in Ireland to launch a 5G service, after Eir and Vodafone both launched their respective services in 2019.

The launch comes a day after the network experienced a major national outage that also impacted other mobile operators including Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile and 48. Three confirmed that the outage was fixed after a number of hours, but did not reveal the cause of the fault.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic