Three Ireland first to join Ericsson’s Startup 5G program

Three Ireland will get exclusive access to a network of 5G startups thanks to Ericsson. (Pixabay)

Three Ireland is the first service provider to join Ericsson’s global initiative designed to capture the consumer potential of 5G, via its Startup 5G program.

The program aims to hook up service providers with partners and support go-to-market strategies that help them be successful in 5G, which represents a $3.7 trillion global business opportunity by 2030, according to a joint report by Ericsson ConsumerLab and Omdia.

Through its involvement, Three Ireland will be able to tap into Ericsson’s ConsumerLab research and analytical data and get exclusive access to a network of 5G startups around the world. The companies already are working on research into offerings like augmented and virtual realities, digital education, e-sports and other immersive media.

“We are delighted to have Three Ireland as the first operator in the world to join this exciting initiative,” said Jasmeet Singh Sethi, head of ConsumerLab at Ericsson Research, in a statement. “With over 20 global 5G startups as part of the program and an ambition to double this by end of 2021, the program offers service providers the ability to deliver exciting new 5G digital services for consumers by collaborating with ecosystem players. Three Ireland will be among the front runners globally to provide these compelling new services to the Irish market.”

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Three Ireland launched its 5G network last year, opting to go with Ericsson rather than Huawei, which it had been using. Swapping to Ericsson base stations meant it was able to deploy 5G in very hard-to-reach places in rural areas, according to a blog by Three Ireland CTO David Hennessy. When the pandemic hit, the network saw a big shift in traffic distribution, with heavier demand in rural areas.

Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is the most logical solution at the edge of fiber networks in rural areas, according to Hennessy. “We see FWA providing a much quicker and cost-effective solution and I’m convinced it’ll play a significant role in solving the rural broadband conundrum. Ericsson 5G will help us enable this and I look forward to many more future innovations to come out of this collaboration,” he wrote.

Ericsson’s newly released study, Five Ways to a Better 5G, revealed that 5G is beginning to trigger new smartphone behaviors, with 5G users spending more time on cloud gaming and augmented reality (AR) apps compared to 4G users.

Covid-19 lockdowns and movement restrictions mean that the vast majority of 5G early adopters’ regular experiences with the technology have been indoors, Ericsson said. Early adopters in the study indicated that indoor coverage is two times more important than speed or battery life in delivering satisfactory 5G experiences.