Three to delay 5G, saying 'no demand'
Three has confirmed it is delaying its 5G launch until 2020.
The operator, which is the only Irish network without a 5G service, had repeatedly promised it would launch the higher speeds by the end of this year.
However, the company now says a rollout will be in 2020 rather than this year, claiming there is "no demand" for it.
"Rather than launch with a small number of sites this year, as other operators have done, we will launch with a substantial footprint in 2020," said a spokeswoman.
Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.
"As a lot of the technology that will exploit the benefits of 5G, including 5G-enabled smartphones, are currently limited in availability, there is no demand that requires an immediate launch."
Industry sources say an additional reason may be protracted negotiations with network equipment providers.
The operator is believed to be in negotiations with Huawei on the installation and rollout of 5G network infrastructure, but Three says the issue is "commercially sensitive".
Huawei has become embroiled in a global political and trade war over the last 12 months, with western telecoms operators increasingly reluctant to talk about their relationships with the Chinese networking firm.
The majority shareholder of Hong Kong-owned Three, Li Ka-shing, has recently drawn criticism from Chinese authorities for perceived support for Hong Kong pro- democracy protesters.
However, Huawei is generally seen as having the most advanced 5G network infrastructure.
Eir Mobile, which uses some Huawei equipment for its 5G network, has more than 100 5G sites around Irish cities, while Vodafone has approximately 20 in the same cities.
5G speeds can generally reach up to 1,000Mbs.