The country’s biggest mobile operator, Vodafone, is to begin trials for rural 5G broadband.
The move could see an alternative to State-backed broadband in some under-served areas. Vodafone is setting up test services that are capable of up to 500Mbs, around 50 times faster than a basic phone broadband subscription, in Roscommon, Wexford, Tipperary and Waterford.
“This trial will allow us to look at how we can enhance and extend broadband access to our customers in the most rural parts of the country,” said Max Gasparroni, Vodafone Ireland’s interim chief technology officer. “Urban areas and town centres are already served with broadband. This is focused on rural areas.”
Two-hundred-and-fifty homes and businesses in the four counties are to receive specialist 5G-compatible equipment which will translate the high-speed wireless signal into very fast home wifi. The move comes after Vodafone set up its first 5G cell in Dublin’s docklands on a trial basis.
Last month, Ericsson announced a 5G wifi router that can translate a 5G signal into high-speed mobile broadband for existing laptops, phones and tablets. The device is expected to be launched for sale in Ireland next year.
Meanwhile, the telecoms regulator, ComReg, has delayed the release of a mobile blackspot map in Ireland until 2019. The watchdog had planned to release a map showing the strongest and weakest areas of mobile coverage across the country this month.
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